Shelley Hendrix, Autism Speaks’ Director of State Advocacy Relations, writes at the organization's blog:
It’s easy to tell the first Monday back after the New Year in the Government Relations department at Autism Speaks. It’s full of sparks as rockets start taking off in every possible angle in the race to introduce autism insurance reform legislation in the states. States spend all fall hammering out policy details, knitting coalitions and growing their grassroots advocates and then BANG! It’s off to the races. This mad pace continues throughout the first half of the year in the scramble to see whose states will achieve the objective this spring legislative session.
Earlier this week, Oregon entered the fray as the first state of 2011 to introduce autism insurance reform legislation with both a House and Senate version of the bill. Oregon has a legislative session that only meets during odd years. The team of volunteers in 2009 worked very hard but we just didn’t reach this objective. We know more now. We are armed with more data and more states have enacted legislation. Oregon’s volunteer leaders have spent time cultivating that fresh ground and sowing the seeds necessary for success.
Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House Bill 2214/Senate Bill 555, the autism insurance reform bill. The announcement marks Autism Speaks’ first state autism insurance reform bill endorsement of the 2011 legislative session and a continuation of the organization’s three year effort to end insurance discrimination against individuals with autism. The Oregon legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the Oregon State House of Representatives by State Representatives Peter Buckley (District 5) and Jim Thompson (District 23) and in the Senate by State Senators Chris Edwards (District 7) and Suzanne Bonamici, HB 2214/SB 555 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. The bill also requires coverage of augmentative communication devices and other assistive technology devices.