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Legislature Passes Bill to Help Families of Autistic Children


Senate Bill 74 requires insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders

JUNEAU - Today, the Alaska State Legislature passed Senate Bill 74, which requires insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders.   SB 74 would require insurance coverage for ASDs including medically necessary treatments include speech and language therapies, occupational and physical therapies and behavioral interventions recognized by the US Surgeon General, The National Institute of Child Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics as effective forms of medical treatment.  

"Today, the Alaska State Legislature came together to pass a bill that will not only help children, I believe it will help save marriages and families," said Senator Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage.  "Children who receive these medical treatments have a shot at staying home and out of costly institutions where they would be destined to a life of constant and intensive care."

Senate Bill 74, approved by the Senate in February, was passed by the House today after a few minor technical changes.  Families of those affected by the autism packed committee rooms and the hallways of the Capitol Building as Senate Bill 74 may its way through the process.  Dozens of parents, experts and others testified in support of the legislation.  

Autism affects at least one in every 88 children in the United States, and the effects on an untreated child and their family are devastating emotionally, psychologically, and economically. These obstacles to a normal and healthy family life can be overcome with treatments that are both effective and affordable.

According to the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, autism insurance coverage will save the State $208,500 per child in avoided special education costs and a lifetime savings of just over a million dollars per child. Without treatment it is estimated lifetime costs to the State of Alaska will exceed $3.2 million per person.

"I am proud of the Legislature for passing this bill," said Senator Ellis.  "Legislators from both bodies, both parties worked across the aisle and across party lines for the past two years to make sure that these Alaskan children have the best shot at a normal life."

Senate Bill 74 now heads to Governor Sean Parnell for his signature.

For more information, please contact Amory Lelake in the Office of Senator Johnny Ellis at 465-3704.


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