Autism Speaks today endorsed bipartisan legislation that would make Ohio the 33rd state to enact autism insurance reform. Bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate would clarify that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) should be covered under the state's Mental Health Parity Act of 2007.
All five states surrounding Ohio have enacted autism insurance reform laws which bar state-regulated health plans from discriminating against children and young adults with autism by refusing to cover proven treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
The House bill (HB-598) is sponsored by state Reps. Lou Terhar (Green Township) and Cheryl Grossman (Grove City); the Senate version (SB-381) is sponsored by Senator Bill Seitz (Cincinnati). The legislation was unveiled at a Statehouse press conference today attended by Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs.
"Autism Speaks looks forward to working with the Ohio Legislature and advocates across the state in bringing relief to families forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket every year to care for their children," Unumb said. "When presented with the facts, the Ohio legislature will make the same choice as every other legislature in the Midwest."
The Ohio Mental Health Parity Act specified that biologically based mental illnesses should be covered by health insurers as a “basic health care service,” but did not include ASDs in the definition of “biologically based mental illnesses.