Randolph, Mass. — Every day, thousands of families in Massachusetts lose valuable time as they fight to secure critical diagnostic and treatment services for their children with autism. Because autism is a disorder that is not covered by insurance, many families are forced to make personal and financial sacrifices in order to pay for effective treatments that can change the trajectory of a child’s future.
This crisis is now being addressed head-on through the Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism, a crucial autism insurance reform bill recently released from the legislature’s Financial Services Committee to the House Ways and Means Committee, sponsored by State Representative Barbara A. L’Italien and State Senator Frederick E. Berry. The proposed bill would require private healthcare policies in the Commonwealth to provide coverage of the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Passage of the bill would mean that families would have access to applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other medically necessary, evidence-based treatments prescribed by a physician or psychologist.
The legislation would put an end to the argument by private insurers that treatments such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism are relatively new and unproven. This bias is both inaccurate and ill-informed.
Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that ABA is the most effective method to teach children and adolescents with autism and other developmental disabilities. ABA has been endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, and has been identified by the Surgeon General of the United States as the most effective way to treat autism. Additionally, according to the National Standards Report (National Autism Center, 2009), data collected through hundreds of studies indicate that ABA is a highly effective method to teach children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
Providing intensive, research-based treatment for individuals with ASD not only offers the greatest likelihood for positive life outcomes, but it is a sound fiscal decision as well. Effective interventions can significantly reduce long-term costs for families and communities. According to a 2006 Harvard School of Public Health report, ABA has been shown to reduce the percentage of individuals with ASD requiring lifelong care by almost 50 percent and to reduce the costs of lifelong care by two-thirds.
While the debate rages about who should bear the costs associated with treating children and adults with autism, too many are not receiving the care they need today. Our state has long taken a leadership role in identifying and providing for the healthcare needs of its citizens. Passage of this legislation is critical to support families grappling with the complexities of autism.
About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral healthcare needs. The Institute also provides training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems. Since its founding over 55 years ago, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually. With corporate headquarters in Randolph, Mass., the Institute operates more than 200 service locations in the Northeast, Southeast, and on the West Coast.
For information about May Institute, call 800-778-7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org.