State lawmakers passed legislation this week that would require insurers to cover autism-related screenings, diagnoses and treatments. The move was a relief for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, but was sure to increase insurance premiums across the board.Expect Gov. Paterson to sign the legislation, which may make it easier for parents to get treatment covered for their children.
The State Assembly passed the measure Monday night, a few weeks after it passed in the Senate. The measure passed unanimously in both houses.
It now goes to Gov. David A. Paterson. New York would become the 22nd state in which insurers are required to cover autism-related treatments.
The text of the bill is here - and it requires that treatment options be peer-reviewed.
SUCH TREATMENT AND THERAPY OPTIONS SHALL BE EVIDENCE-BASED, PEER-REVIEWED AND CLINICALLY PROVEN. COVERAGE FOR BEHAVIORAL THERAPIES REQUIRED PURSUANT TO THIS SUBPARAGRAPH SHALL NOT BE DENIED ON THE BASIS THAT SUCH THERAPIES ARE EDUCATIONAL OR REHABILITATIVE IN NATURE, UNLESS SUCH TREATMENTS ARE BEING PROVIDED TO THE COVERED PERSON PURSUANT TO AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN UNDER ARTICLE EIGHTY-NINE OF THE EDUCATION LAW.In the course of lobbying on the bill, some autism activists sought to water down that language so as to allow junk science to enter into consideration - allowing any kind of treatment, regardless of whether it was peer reviewed or not. This version eliminates those kinds of treatments, but expect some parents to complain that their options are somehow limited as a result.
Parents with autistic spectrum disorder children frequently grasp at straws and any possible treatment, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Everything from chelation therapy to detox to homeopathy could conceivably be demanded by the parents, but that doesn't stop people from going and seeking out doctors with theories based on junk science (see the link for those sources that can be trusted on autism research and treatment options).
On the downside, the legislation is expected to increase premiums in the state. Proponents say it would increase premiums 0.5% while insurance company lobbyists say it is closer to 2% or more. New York insurance premiums are already among the highest in the nation because of the tremendous number of requirements for coverage. Those costs mean higher out of pocket costs for those who have health insurance, and those seeking insurance.