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Friday, January 21, 2011

Autism Insurance Bills

Legislation requiring private health insurers to help pay for critical services and programs for children and adults with autism and related disorders was introduced today by Assembly Member Jim Beall, D-San Jose.

Assembly Bill 171 not only ensures more Californians with autism and related disorders will receive the services they need but it also saves taxpayer dollars by stopping insurers from continuing to shift their costs onto public agencies.

AB 171 is sponsored by the Alliance of California Autism Organizations (ACAO) which is comprised of over 40 California parent founded and supported local, state, and nationally based autism advocacy and support organizations and their local chapters.

The Virginia Autism Project is hoping the General Assembly will take up Autism insurance reform.

The VAP website lists two bills the group is supporting this year. SB 1061 - Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder; relating to the state employee health benefit plan. This bill only covers state employees. SB 1062 - Relating to health insurance coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder. This bill excludes state employees.

In Michigan, CNBC reports:

Michigan lawmakers are renewing efforts to require the offering of insurance coverage for certain autism treatments.

Bills were introduced this week in the state Senate. Democratic Sen. Tupac Hunter of Detroit said Thursday the insurance coverage is needed to help families that can't afford the costs of certain autism treatments for their children.

In West Virginia, The Wheeling Intelligencer reports:

A bill introduced Thursday in the West Virginia Legislature would require insurance companies - including state insurance plans - to pay for research-based medical treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders.

If it passes, West Virginia would join more than 30 other states in requiring treatment coverage for the neurological disorder that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects one in 110 Americans.

The measure could save Wally and Tamara Aman of Wheeling more than $70,000 a year. That's about how much it costs the couple to send their twin 3-year-old boys - both with autism - to the Augusta Levy Learning Center in Wheeling. At the nonprofit facility, they receive an intensive research-based form of one-on-one therapy called applied behavioral analysis.

Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, is among the sponsors of the bill, and he terms the push for funding of autism care in the state "a worthy cause."

But Klempa - also a member of the Senate Finance Committee - said any provision requiring insurance plans to cover autism care also would apply to state medical coverage plans and that lawmakers haven't yet found the funds in the state budget to pay for the coverage.

Also in West Virginia, WSAZ reports on a flash mob: