Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ark Gov signs autism insurance coverage bill into law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Gov. Mike Beebe will sign into law a bill requiring insurance companies to cover autism diagnosis and treatment.

There is new support for autistic children in Arkansas. Tuesday, Governor Mike Beebe signed an autism bill into law. It requires most health insurance companies to cover autism diagnoses and treatment for children under 18.

It's a signature with the power to lift a financial weight. Ten-year-old Briar Miller with his mom Dayna were in the center of it all. "I'm glad the law passed we've been trying to pass it for two years," says Briar Miller.

Most major health insurance companies can no longer deny Arkansas families coverage for treatment for children with autism. "I just truly believe that children in Arkansas deserve the same right as children across the United States especially when it was a research proven approach," says Dayna Miller.

Miller estimates she borrowed $100,000 to pay for applied behavior analysis. It's treatment using positive reinforcement recommended by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Miller says for Briar it works. " He went from a nonverbal child, he's in the fifth grade getting straight A's although he brought home a B last week that's we're going to get up," says Miller.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism and that ABA treatment ranges anywhere from 30 to 60 thousand dollars a year.
Veronica Tess Myers says in 1996, when doctors diagnosed her son Alexander with severe to moderate autism.

You definitely feel alone, there's a lot of tears being cried there's a lot of frustration there's a lot of sitting alone trying to figure out what the next step is going to be to help you child to succeed," says Myers.

They told her told her it was either ABA or a group home for life. "And that's the part that breaks my heart that so many families want to help their child and couldn't get therapy," says Miller.

Danya Miller says she was working at a factory when Briar was born. She went back to school and became a speech pathologist to help him and other children with autism. ­estimates that one in 93 boys and one in 345 girls in the state are autistic.

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