Friday, June 11, 2010

Missouri gov signs bill mandating autism coverage

Tracy Fritz recalled the shock of learning her 3-year-old daughter, Louisa, had autism. Even worse, when the family found a therapy that had potential, insurance wouldn't cover it.

For some Missourians, that is about to change. Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday signed a bill making Missouri the 21st state to require insurance coverage for some children with autism-related disorders. The ceremony was at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in suburban St. Louis, one of several hospitals that pushed for the measure.

The law, effective Jan. 1, seeks to help families that have maxed-out credit cards, refinanced homes and exhausted their savings to pay for intensive therapy for autistic children. Under the measure, group insurance policies regulated by the state must cover up to $40,000 a year for diagnosis and behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 18.

The bill specifically requires coverage of a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA. Nixon said experts believe ABA is a vital tool in helping children with autism and related disorders.

Fritz and her husband, Barney, are both physicians, so they could afford the ABA therapy doctors at St. John's recommended for Louisa. A year after the diagnosis, Fritz said the change in the little girl, now 4, has been remarkable.

"When we began she couldn't say mommy or daddy," Fritz said. "She was unable to communicate even her most basic needs."

Source and More:

Autism Awareness Silver Stretch Puzzle Piece Ring

The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's

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