Autism hearing Tuesday

The legislative Employee Benefits Programs Committee will hear a bill tomorrow related to health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders.

Autism was a topic in Missouri when I helped cover the legislative session there this past spring. Nicholas Gates of Dickinson sent out this release to the media this weekend:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS

Dickinson, ND, 9/18/2009 – North Dakota is one of five states that currently has not approved an autism insurance reform bill. On Tuesday, September 21st, a bill to act to require health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders will be heard by the Legislative Assembly’s Employee Benefits Committee.

The proposed bill will require insurance companies, nonprofit health service corporations, or health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The bill also states insurance companies, nonprofit health service corporations, or health maintenance organizations may not terminate coverage or refuse to deliver, execute, issue, amend, adjust, or renew coverage to an individual solely because the individual is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or has received treatment for an autism spectrum disorder.

Nicholas Gates, founder and Executive Director of the Southwest Area Child Enhancement Center drafted this bill due to his 8-year old son, Noah, being denied health care coverage for autism spectrum disorder treatment. Nicholas spent five years working with people with disabilities in Minnesota where he gained knowledge of autism insurance reform bills in action. Currently one out of every one-hundred and ten children will be born with an autism spectrum disorder. The proposed bill will provide a maximum benefit of twenty-five thousand dollars per year and a lifetime total benefit of seventy-five thousand dollars.

Mr. Gates is asking any and all citizen concerned with this issue to support the proposed bill by speaking to your legislative representative. For additional information, please visit http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/61-2009/interim/interim-bill.html and scroll down to Employee benefits Committee, Autism PERS Medical Benefits for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

For more information on the costs of raising a child with Autism visit:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2006-releases/press04252006.html

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