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Measure moves to House
HONOLULU (March 7, 2014) -- The Hawai'i Senate voted 24-1 for SB.2054, an autism insurance reform bill, and sent the measure to the House. The first hearing is scheduled Wednesday before the House Health Committee.
Introduced by Senators Josh Green,Suzanne Chun Oakland and Russell Ruderman, the bill would require state-regulated health plans to coverthe screening, diagnosis and evidence-based treatment of autism up to age 21, including up to $50,000 for behavioral therapy. Lifetime benefits for behavioral health therapy, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), would be capped at $300,000.
The bill is similar to a measure that passed both houses of the Legislature last year, but then failed to clear conference committee. In addition to Autism Speaks, the measure is supported by the Hawaii Medical Association, the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, and other groups.Opposition has been raised from theHawaii Medical Service Association and Hawaii Association of Health Plans.
In addition to behavioral health ABA treatment, the bill would require coverage for autism-related psychiatric, psychological, pharmaceutical and therapeutic care, such as speech, occupational and physical therapy.
Hawaii is one of 16remaining states yet to require state-regulated health plans to cover essential autism treatments and services.
Senate President Steinberg suggests possibility of funding Medi-Cal coverage
SACRAMENTO (March 5, 2014) --The leader of the California Senate has raised the possibility of funding coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism through Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg raised theMedicaid funding issue at the conclusion of a hearingby the Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders on the effectiveness of SB.946, the state's 2011 autism insurance reform law.Steinberg, who authored the law, said the law on balance has been a "tremendous success."
"The next step, of course, is extending (applied behavior analysis) therapy to families who are on Medi-Cal," Steinberg said, according to California Healthline. "It's equal protection. If it's good for some kids, then why isn't it good for all kids?
"It's an issue of money, and we intend to take that up during the budget session," Steinberg said. "We ain't done yet. There's one more budget cycle."
Last year, the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown failedto reach a funding agreement to continue autism therapies for 900,000 children who transitioned out of the Healthy Families Programinto Medi-Cal. The transition was supposed to have resulted in no loss of services, but instead many families said their children lost access to ABA once in Medi-Cal.
KXTV-10,Sacramento's ABA affiliate station, reported on the hearing: