Letter: Reform needed to ensure coverage of autism

As the mother of a child with autism, House Bill 187 and Senate Bill 74 excite me. They will require insurers to cover evidence-based autism spectrum disorder (ASD) therapies like applied behavior analysis. Currently, insurers deny payment of this and other therapeutic treatments for ASD.

Rep. Pete Petersen and Sen. Johnny Ellis sponsor these important bills. Chairman of the House Health and Social Services Committee Wes Keller has been stalling HB 187. Alaskans cannot afford this delay.

Treating ASD costs families upwards of $50,000 annually. Taxpayers also pay for ASD through special education, social community support services, and Medicaid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the prevalence of ASD at 1 in 110 children.

Research has shown that 40-45 percent of children who receive intensive early behavioral intervention achieved near normal or normal functioning. That amounts to a cost benefit savings of $1,686,061 to $2,816,535 per child over a lifetime.

Twenty-nine states have already enacted autism insurance reform laws; 13 other states are pursuing similar legislation.  Please encourage Keller to act on HB 187 by calling him at 465-2186.

Stacey Finley

Anchorage

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