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Monday, May 19, 2014

A Settlement in Washington State

The Seattle Times reports:
Premera Blue Cross and its subsidiary, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, will remove restrictions on neurodevelopmental therapy for autism and set aside $3.5 million to reimburse policyholders who paid for therapy out of pocket.

Under the settlement agreement, Premera and Lifewise will remove age limits and treatment limitations from any medically necessary speech, occupational and physical therapy. The change will apply to all insured plans issued by Premera and LifeWise in Washington.

The settlement is the latest to emerge from a string of lawsuits brought against insurers, employers and state agencies that restrict or limit neurodevelopmental therapy such as applied behavior analysis.

The final settlement agreement in the Premera case, reached in three class-action lawsuits in King County Superior Court and in U.S. District Court in Seattle, must be preliminarily approved by the three judges.

The lawsuits were brought by five individuals diagnosed with autism and their parents, alleging the restrictions violated the Washington State Mental Health Parity Act, which requires equal coverage for mental and physical services.