Beall Introduces Autism Insurance Mandate Legislation

January 20, 2011
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920

Legislation requiring private health insurers to help pay for critical services and programs for children and adults with autism and related disorders was introduced today by Assembly Member Jim Beall, D-San Jose.

Assembly Bill 171 not only ensures more Californians with autism and related disorders will receive the services they need but it also saves taxpayer dollars by stopping insurers from continuing to shift their costs onto public agencies.

AB 171 is sponsored by the Alliance of California Autism Organizations (ACAO) which is comprised of over 40 California parent founded and supported local, state, and nationally based autism advocacy and support organizations and their local chapters.

Specifically, AB 171 would:

  • Require health plans to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
  • Require health plans to develop and maintain networks of qualified autism service providers.
  • Close real and perceived loopholes in current law that health plans exploit to deny essential treatments to individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders.
  • Leave the practice of medicine to doctors instead of insurance companies.
  • Provide significant and immediate cost savings to the state, which is currently paying the cost of health care services for many insured Californians with autism spectrum disorders through the Regional Centers, counties and school districts.
  • Provide long term cost savings in the form of reduced state spending on special education, welfare and other ongoing social services by ensuring Californians with ASD receive comprehensive treatment.

"I stand with the thousands of California parents and their children with autism spectrum and related disorders in the fight for justice to insure that California's HMO's and other private insurers bear their fair share of the responsibility of providing essential services to those impacted by these conditions.’’ Beall said.

"We cannot continue to expect taxpayers to exclusively foot the bill for vital health care services and programs such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and other essential medical and mental health services for children and adults with autism spectrum and related disorders.

"The private insurance industry must once and for all be mandated to provide these services and share the fiscal burden that many of us here in Sacramento believe has been purposely and disingenuously avoided for many years by the private insurance industry.’’

"California's autism community is eternally grateful to Assembly Member Beall for introducing AB 171,’’ said Rick Rollens, longtime autism parent advocate and co-founder of ACAO. “Our community stands ready to work tirelessly to secure passage and enactment of this historic measure.’’