The Alabama Senate voted 32-0 for legislation earlier this month, in favor for private insurance companies to offer more health coverage for autism treatment, according to Bama Hager, parent advocate for the Autism Bill and Policy Advisor of the Autism Society of Alabama.
The Alabama Autism Insurance Bill will assist families with certain private insurance companies to cover speech therapy and occupational therapy for Autistic kids who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 9 years and younger.
“Of course, Autism doesn’t end at 9 years old, but the bill we were able to pass covers the important, early years of ASD treatment,” says Hager.
UAB is assisting with Autism research by pairing up with the Center for Disease Control to gather statistics for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Alabama Autism Insurance Bill does not cover Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, a scientific, evidence-based analysis of behaviors and environments that help explain how learning takes place for those with Autism.
Because ABA was omitted from the bill’s original legislation, the national advocacy group, AutismSpeaks, dropped its co-coordination with the Autism Society. In the past, AutismSpeaks has assisted with Autism bills in 30 other states.
“The final legislation does not include ABA therapy, but you have to start somewhere. It is possible that there will be future years of advocacy for ABA insurance coverage,” says Hager.
Next, the Alabama Autism Insurance Bill will go to the House of Representatives, then Governor Robert Bentley should sign the law this spring. The bill will go into effect by October.
“April is a huge month for us at the Autism Society because it is Autism Awareness Month. We have a lot going on that month,” says Hager.
In April, the Autism Society at Alabama will be hosting the Funky Fish Fry in Crestline Village. A day of music, catfish, moonwalks, and face painting will benefit Autism Awareness.
Currently, the Autism Society is hosting a massive Charity Tag Campaign where drivers can pay $50 extra for a car tag, and the proceeds go to the Autism Society. Information about the car tag drive can be found on the ASA website.