On November 1st 2011 Governor Cuomo officially signed the autism insurance reform bill into law. The bill was created in order to prevent insurance companies from using discriminatory practices with patients who have a diagnosis of autism, by ensuring that they receive the medical care to which they are entitled. Under the new legislation companies must provide coverage for evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA.) This relieves a huge burden for parents and relatives who recognize the importance of these treatments and need to defray the high costs of therapy
The law, which will take effect in 12 months, allows for up to 45,000 a year in ABA treatments regardless of the patient’s age or the number of visits required. A fiscal analysis demonstrates that, while the costs may seem high, the bill will save taxpayers money in the long run. In fact, it’s projected to save 13 million dollars over the next 6 years by reducing Medicaid, Early Intervention and Special Education costs.
This law will come as a huge relief to parents who have long been covering the high costs out of pocket because of an insurance company’s refusal to accommodate or properly support patients with a diagnosis of autism. Medically necessary treatments were not covered by insurance companies, and a diagnosis of autism was not treated with the same seriousness and respect as other medical diagnoses. As Senator Fuschillo summarized:
“This law will be a giant step forward towards helping families with autism get the care they need. No longer will these families be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year paying for autism treatments and therapies which their insurance companies refuse to cover. Finally, they will have exactly what they deserve; access to treatment coverage just like any other condition and protection from being denied services solely because of an autism diagnosis. I am pleased that we were able to work together to make this a reality.”
This bill goes a long way towards correcting and reversing any discriminatory practices by the insurance companies and validates a diagnosis of autism by giving it the same weight and priority as any other diagnosis. Many New Yorkers can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that treatment will become more affordable and accessible.