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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Autism Bills in Maine and Hawaii

In Maine, the Kennebec Journal reports on new legislation, using the anecdote of a Addie Bowen, a young Mainer with ASD:
Now a bill in the Maine Legislature would help more families access the specialized speech, language, occupational and physical therapies that Addie receives, known as Applied Behavior Analysis, as well as other professional developmental services.
Maine joined a national trend in 2010 when it passed legislation requiring private health insurance companies to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders in children through age 5. The bill before the Insurance and Financial Services Committee would push the coverage requirement to age 21.
Proponents say the bill is intended to ensure a continuum of care for children who have autism but aren't covered by MaineCare, the state's form of Medicaid, and who may live in school districts where autism programs are limited.
"When you look at the range and variety of individual circumstances of people who have autism in Maine, we have children and young adults who can only get so much through our public schools," said Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, one of the bill's sponsors.
The insurance committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the bill.
Maui Now reports on a mandate bill in Hawaii:
A bill that would require coverage and benefits for patients with autism spectrum disorders passed committee approval in the state House today.

The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce unanimously adopted HB721, which requires that state-regulated health plans cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including Applied Behavioral Analysis.

The bill was originally heard last week in a hearing that featured testimony from an 8-year-old boy named Luke, who was diagnosed with autism. During his testimony, Luke’s difficulties in communicating with others was observed firsthand by legislators as he asked for the help that he needs to better navigate the social world.

“The testimony of the brave young boy clearly illustrated the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder,” said CPC Chair Angus McKelvey of Maui.

The bill, now being referred to as “Luke’s Law” is designed to equip children with the social skill set needed to better interact with others and enrich their lives.