Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Colorado Passes Early Intervention Plan That Applies to Autism, And More Legislative News

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter on May 15 signed into law a measure that mandates private health insurers contribute an estimated $2.8 million into a state fund for early intervention services for children up to three years old with developmental delays. Read a short news release from the governor's office here. Read a copy of the legislation, known as Senate Bill 4, by clicking here (it's a 29-page PDF file).

Thanks to Betty Lehman, executive director of the Autism Society of Colorado, who wrote to explain that this bill, supported by the Society and many other advocates, is designed to improve early detection, diagnosis and treatment for children with autism in Colorado. The bill's language applies to all children, from birth to age 3, who fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that mandates free and appropriate education for children with disabilities.

Betty Lehman also wrote to remind Autism Bulletin readers that while a number of states around the country are considering legislation to make health insurers expand coverage for autism services, especially for young children, Colorado has had a law in place since 1993 that affords health insurance coverage for autism as insurers would cover other medical conditions. Read that law online here.

In other state legislative news:

* The Oregon House of Representatives approved a measure that would require health insurers to cover pervasive developmental disorders, including some forms of autism, by a vote of 53-0 on May 12. You can read a short news article about the vote in the Statesman Journal, by clicking here. See the language in the bill, as it was originally submitted, by clicking here on the Oregon Legislature website.

* Wisconsin's Senate Leader is rallying support for her bill to require health insurers to cover some autism services for children. In this May 15 Wisconsin Radio Network report, Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson asserts that money spent on intervention services early in a child's life can save money down the road:

Robson says this is a win-win-win legislation. She explains early intervention is effective, it diminishes the waiting list, and saves taxpayer dollars in the long-run. For every dollar spent on intensive behavioral treatments for the autistic child, the state would save 19-dollars on long term costs. 49 legislators from both sides of the isle are cosponsoring this legislation. "It's not a Republican bill, it's not a Democrat bill. This is a people bill and a children's bill."

* Ohio lawmaker, father of autistic daughter, seeks funding for early autism detection. Rep. Kevin Bacon, a Republican from Columbus with a 7-year-old daughter with atypical autism, won support to include $800,000 in the state budget "to educate pediatricians and others on early autism detection," The Associated Press reports May 14. See this short news item from the AP via WTOL-TV in Toledo.

Also see:

* 17 States Require Some Insurance Coverage for Autism

* Wisconsin Governor Calls for Autism Coverage

* New Mexico Senate Passes Bill for Autism Insurance Coverage

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