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Massachusetts – Proposed Bill to Extend Autism Services

By Ryan E. Alekman, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that one in 150 children in the United States has some form of Autism. In Massachusetts that number is closer to one in 132. In the State of Massachusetts, autistic children under the age of three are currently are eligible to receive 40 hours of therapy through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s early intervention services. But after that, the family is entirely dependent on their local school district. For children who need more help than the school district can provide, the family is on their own to find and pay for needed services.

Massachusetts State Representative, Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover has a nineteen year old autistic son, and has introduced a bill to the Massachusetts State Senate that would require insurance companies to cover treatment for Autism at the same level as for other ailments. The bill is part of a nationwide campaign by Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy group, to improve services for autistic children.

According to L’Italien, her son’s medical needs are just as real as those required for other, covered services, such as treatment for her daughter’s asthma.

Autism Speaks has commissioned a report in support of this bill and others like it; it shows that extending autism coverage to all insured persons would increase premiums by less than 1% annually, or about $40 per person covered. The report did indicate that the rate of increase is difficult to figure.

Opponents say that any increase is too much in a down economy, and that it would place a burden on small businesses. They add that only Massachusetts residents insured by state licensed insurance companies would benefit from the bill – about half of the population of the state. The bill’s proponents say that the bill would ease budget pressure on the state’s schools, which often provide the bulk of services to children with autism.

The bill has more than 100 co-sponsors, and supporters are optimistic that it will pass. That would make Massachusetts the 16th state in the US to require insurance to pay for autism treatments. Find out more about the bill and the plight of autistic children in Massachusetts at Bill seeks coverage for autism services.</a