The Massachusetts Legislature is taking up a bill that would require private healthcare policies cover autism services such as Applied Behavior Analysis, physical and occupational therapy, diagnostic and other services. You can see a copy of House Bill 67 below. Rep. Barbara A. L'Italien, a Democrat from Andover, and Senator Frederick Berry, a Democrat from Peabody, introduced the bill earlier this month.
Advocates from AutismVotes.org, an initiative of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, have set up a website for this Massachusetts initiative. It's one of several efforts around the country to raise awareness of the issue of autism insurance, and to press for increased coverage.
The autism insurance issue has been a key legislative effort for autism advocates for quite some time. As awareness about the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has increased, so have calls for ways to help families who are thrust into finding ways to help their children, with early intervention services and special education programs. (Calls to help young adults and adults have not been as loud, but one can anticipate they will grow as the cohort grows and matures.)
In state after state (see Autism Bulletin archives for articles on South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and other states), the battle shapes up to be one where families and advocates point out the need for services and the health insurance industry argues the cost is too high. Massachusetts is among those states where we can expect to see that conflict play out this year.
Below are two documents (e-mail readers will see links, and blog visitors should see an image of the documents embedded in this article). The first document is a copy of House Bill 67, which calls for insurance coverage for autism services. The second document is an Autism Speaks advocacy paper, prepared in 2007, outlining the reasons for supporting this type of legislation.
MA HouseBill 0067_001 - As Introduced Jan 2009
Below, find the Autism Speaks document that lays out an argument in favor of autism insurance coverage.
Arguments for Private Insurance Coverage