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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rhode Island Mandate Advances

The Providence Journal reports:

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill that would require private insurers to provide up to $32,000 a year in benefits for medically prescribed behavioral therapies for children on the autism spectrum up to their 15th birthdays.

State Sen. Edward O’Neill and state Rep. Peter Palumbo have sponsored companion bills in both houses of the General Assembly for the past two years to help alleviate the financial strain faced by parents of children with autism, who often cannot afford early and intensive behavioral therapies that have been shown to be effective in helping youngsters learn to talk and better relate to other people and their environments.

For the most severely affected children, these treatments can cost $50,000 a year or more, according to testimony before the General Assembly.

The Senate bill, which passed Thursday, had the backing of Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed.

Palumbo’s bill is scheduled for a final floor vote in the House on Tuesday, according to Autism Speaks, a nationwide nonprofit group that took a lead in 2011 in organizing parents and other advocates to push for insurance coverage.