Autism Insurance Reform Efforts

Friday, April 27, 2012

While the Maryland legislature has indeed fallen behind the thirty other states that have passed meaningful autism insurance reform, it is important to note that after years of effort, some progress was finally made this session in Annapolis. Alternative legislation that was actively championed by Speaker Mike Busch, Delegates Peter Hammen and Ariana Kelly and fully endorsed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), Josh Sharfstein, and passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

HB1055/SB744 requires the DHMH, in consultation with the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, to establish a Technical Advisory Group (TAG). This TAG, to be composed of individuals with expertise in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders, will be asked to determine the medically necessary and appropriate use of habilitative care (such as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy) for the treatment of autism. This approach utilizes the existing habilitative care mandate as a starting point and finally allows for the appropriate clarification of evidence-based treatments (like ABA/behavioral health treatment) through the promulgation of regulations.

The passage of this legislation was “step one” of a complicated journey. Pathfinders for Autism, along with Autism Speaks, is  closely engaged in the process and is committed to work with the TAG to ensure that the resulting regulations will meet the needs of the Autism community. There are no guarantees with the regulatory process, but with the support of many of Maryland’s legislators, we hope to see Maryland families finally accessing meaningful autism treatment by the end of the year.


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