- New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle
said the Senate approved legislation last week to enable individuals with autism spectrum disorders to receive insurance coverage for screening, diagnosis and treatment. The bill (S.4005A) would save tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses spent by families caring for individuals with autism and address insurance companies' refusal to cover costs for autism treatments and therapies.
"Raising a child with autism places a tremendous amount of stress on families," said Senator LaValle. "Parents should not have to be burdened with the added worry of whether insurance will cover the cost of necessary health care."
Autism Spectrum Disorders affect individuals of all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 110 children, including 1 in 70 boys, are currently affected with autism.
The legislation requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Insurance companies would be prohibited from terminating coverage or refusing to renew, adjust, amend, issue, or execute a policy solely because the individual has been diagnosed with or received treatment for autism spectrum disorders. The legislation builds upon an existing law which prevents insurance companies from denying treatment coverage otherwise covered by the policy solely because the treatment is provided to diagnose or treat an autism spectrum disorder.
If this legislation becomes law, New York would join 25 other states which have already enacted similar autism insurance reform laws. It is supported by a number of different organizations, including Autism Speaks, the Medical Society of the State of New York, New York State Association for Behavior Analysis, and Families Together in New York State.
The bill will be sent to the Governor.