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Saturday, June 18, 2011

New York Senate Passes Autism Mandate

AP reports:
State lawmakers passed legislation Friday that would require New York insurers to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment for autism spectrum disorders.

That would include routine toddler screenings, behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, sponsors said. While Medicaid is the main reimbursement source and some services are provided in public schools, they said many parents struggle to pay treatment that still costs them thousands of dollars annually.

"Families that need help paying medical bills for their loved ones can finally get the coverage they deserve," said Sen. Roy McDonald, a Saratoga County Republican. He has two grandchildren with autism.

Lawmakers said the bill prohibits insurers from terminating or refusing to execute a policy solely because someone has been diagnosed and received treatment for autism spectrum disorders. If signed into law, New York would follow 25 other states with similar measures.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reviewing the bill, spokesman Josh Vlasto said.

Last year, Gov. David Paterson vetoed a similar measure, estimating it would increase state and municipal insurance costs $70 million annually, including higher health insurance premiums.