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Friday, June 28, 2013

NC Mandate Stalls in State Senate

Advocates for people with autism want access to critical treatments, but legislation that would allow it is hung up in the General Assembly.

Most insurance providers cover speech, occupational and physical therapy, but North Carolina is one of 17 states where insurance doesn't cover applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA therapy.

The state House voted overwhelmingly last month to approve legislation that would require insurers to cover ABA therapy, but it has languished in a Senate committee since then.
Scott Taylor said he and his wife paid $1,500 out of pocket for ABA therapy for their 11-year-old son, Daniel. He credits the strides his son has made to the therapy, which involves a team of therapists reinforcing positive behaviors and trying to eliminate negative ones.

"It makes a big difference," Taylor said. "It is time intensive, one on one, and so it's not cheap."

A year ago, he said, they had to halt the therapy because they could no longer afford it.

"These children cannot wait on the treatment that they need and that their doctors are prescribing," said Lorri Unumb, vice president for government affairs for advocacy group Autism Speaks. "To have an insurance policy that purports to cover autism but doesn't cover the single most important treatment for autism is not meaningful."