F O R I M M E D I A T E R E L E A S E
Texas Legislature Passes Expansion
Of Insurance Coverage for Texas Children with Autism
May 31, 2009 Contact: Mike Bernoski, Executive Director
Austin, Texas – The Texas legislature showed their support today for families by passing a measure to expand the age of mandatory insurance coverage for children with autism from the time of diagnosis to the 10th birthday. HB451 expands on the existing law passed in 2007 which requires coverage for generally recognized autism services, including Applied Behavior Analysis. Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder celebrated today and are urging the Governor to sign this bill into law.
“It is hard to appreciate how much effort on the part of so many goes into passing a bill of this nature,” said Mike Bernoski, Executive Director of Texas Autism Advocacy. “The broad bipartisan support shows that Republicans and Democrats alike understand this is a family issue, and it moves Texas a significant step forward in its response to the growing crisis of autism.” This is Texas Autism Advocacy’s second successful push to secure better insurance coverage for children with autism.
This legislation, authored by representatives Dr. Alma Allen (D-Houston), Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), and Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), and carried in the Senate by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr (D-Brownsville), author of the existing law which has been in effect since January 1, 2008, was a welcome relief to parents whose children were excluded by the first law because they were either too old or too young or the child of a teacher.
Taxpayers have something to cheer about as well. By expanding the number of children covered, the bill will triple the existing law’s $1.35 billion in lifetime savings to a projected $4.06 billion over the next 50 years.
“One in 150 children is diagnosed with autism. If we do not take care of our children now, we as Texans will suffer later,” Rep. Allen explained. “This bill will help the hardest working in Texas - those that deal with the challenges of raising a child with autism.”
“Early intervention has proven to be able to turn a child’s life completely around,” commented Senator Eddie Lucio Jr., “Now that we have a better understanding of the associated costs and benefits it is time to take the next step.
The Texas bill remains the only state insurance reform that has no dollar caps on the stipulated coverage which includes diagnostic testing, speech, OT, PT, as well as medical and behavior therapies.
Parents and teachers are eager for Governor Perry to sign the bill into law. This bill does not affect ERISA, Medicaid, or CHIP plans, however efforts are underway to address these plans as well.
To learn more about legislation and other initiatives, please visit www.texasautismadvocacy.org.
Texas Autism Advocacy’s mission: To seek to create systemic change by identifying practical solutions that will positively affect the lives of people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.