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Improving health care access kids with autism – Support LB 505


Before I moved to Omaha, I worked at an Autism Therapy Center as an ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapist in Minnesota. My main duties while there focused on providing one-on-one direct care for children on the autism spectrum. The families paid for the treatments through insurance payments, so I saw the direct impact that changes or cuts in health insurance had on the children and families even when the absence from therapy was only a month.

Currently thirty-four states include coverage for autism therapy, four have limited coverage, and nine have a mental health parity.[1]  Nebraska and my home state of Minnesota are currently among those with mental health parity.  However, Minnesota’s Legislature went forward with a similar bill earlier this month to support its children and families who are faced with autism and they are now on their second Engrossment.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex brain development disorder, affecting areas of the brain that govern communication and social function. It is estimated that 1 in 88 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum.[2]

Treatments for autism are difficult to access, often inadequate, and frequently delayed. When children are denied coverage by private group health insurance companies, parents are forced either to pay out-of-pocket or forego the treatments, and families often cannot afford the necessary services.

When services are delayed or denied to children with autism in the early years of life, critical windows to intervene are lost. But when early and intensive intervention is provided, it results in improved language skills and behavior, raised IQ levels, and greater success in school.[3]

All children deserve to have the opportunity to be healthy and productive adults. Voices for Children strongly supports LB505 because we believe it will increase access to critically necessary services for children who are currently being denied opportunities.


[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2012. www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/autism/data.html

[3] Dawson, G. et al. (2010) “Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for toddlers with autism: The Early Start Denver Model.” Pediatrics, 125(1), 17-24.

Thank you to taking the time to share!


  1. REPLY
    Anne Buettner says

    In reference to LB 505, Nebraska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (NAMFT) and other mental health professional associations such as professional counselors and social workers support the reimbursement of autism spectrum disorder by insurances ( as of now only Tricare reimburses) AND the inclusion of Licensed Mental Health Practitioners as reimbursable providers. Conference had been held with lobbyist of the autism consumer group and Nebraska Psychological Association. The bill is now being tabled at the committee (not killed) because the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee decided that all bills that have mandated coverage need to wait because of the pending implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is feared that mandated coverage would inadvertently relegate employers and families who are enrolled in small insurance plans, etc…. to pick up the added premium expense.

    Anne Buettner
    Legislative Chair

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