Aerospace giant Boeing has been hit with a complaint in federal court by its Washington state employees who claim the company's denial of insurance coverage of applied behavior analysis (ABA) for their children with autism violates the federal Mental Health Parity Act. Filed by two families whose sons have autism, "C.S." and "D.Z.", the suit seeks certification as a class action on behalf of Boeing's 81,000 Washington-based employees.
The case has added significance because Boeing self-insures its employee health plan and therefore is regulated under federal ERISA law which is immune from state autism insurance reform laws, such as the law in its headquarters state of Illinois. The suit was filed by Seattle attorneys Ele Hamburger and Richard Spoonemore who have been winning a series of similar federal class action suits in Washington over ABA denials. The complaint alleges Boeing's denial of ABA benefits violates the 2008 Wellstone Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act as well as its fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA.
Boeing does not expressly exclude ABA coverage in its health plan, but rather has its claims administrators exclude all coverage of ABA therapy through internal policies and restricted provider networks, the complaint alleges.