Governor Signs Autism Insurance Bill

October 09, 2011

Thousands of Californians with Autism Spectrum Disorders will now be able to get therapies and treatment covered by their private health insurance under legislation signed into law today by the Governor.

"This legislation can be a national standard for autism insurance," said Assemblymember Jim Beall, D-San Jose, the principal co-author of Senate Bill 946. "Autism is a medical condition not an education problem. SB 946 sets a course of treatment for hundreds of thousands of kids, now and in the future, who will be able to get treatment for their condition.

"By ratifying SB 946, the Governor shows his foresight and compassion for the families that are coping with autism. I thank him for signing this bill."

Senate Bill 946 was introduced by Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, with Assemblymember Beall as the principal co-author. It is an amalgamation of two bills introduced earlier in the session by both legislators. Beall presented the bill on the Assembly floor.

SB 946 streamlines the process by which thousands of families can be connected to behavioral specialists and therapists. It defines the scope of treatment and addresses a loophole that had stopped people with autism from getting insurers to cover treatment.

Currently, private health insurers contend they are only required to pay for coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis services and other therapies from licensed providers. But the state has no licensing requirement for behavioral health treatment, a Catch-22 that effectively prevents people from accessing their coverage. The bill closes the loophole by allowing the state Department of Developmental Services and the Regional Centers approve providers.

"SB 946 will save taxpayers money by stopping insurance companies from routinely denying coverage to people with autism and shoveling costs for Applied Behavioral Analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other essential medical services on our school districts and public agencies," Beall said.

Contact: Rodney Foo (408) 282-8920