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Support for LB 1129 – Insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders

February 7, 2012
To: Members of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
From: Caitlin Pardue, Policy Associate – Behavioral Health
Re: Support for LB 1129 – Provide requirements for insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex brain developmental disorder, affecting the areas of the brain that govern communication and social function. It is estimated that 1 in 100 children in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum.1 Voices for Children in Nebraska strongly supports LB 1129 because we believe it will increase access to critically necessary services for children who are currently being denied coverage.

This is important for Nebraska for two principle reasons:

1. 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 their children need.  Due to the high financial costs of treatments, 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.2

2. Mandated private insurance coverage allows children with autism to access treatments that have been proven to be effective. The efficacy of applied behavioral analysis (ABA), in combination with occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy, has been established repeatedly.

  • A 2011 study investigated the effectiveness of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), a form of ABA, in 11 different scientific studies and found that young children who receive EIBI outperform on both IQ and adaptive behavior measures.3
  • A 1998 Surgeon General’s report stated that ABA has been repeatedly proven over thirty years to improve communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior. 4

LB 1129 is important to providing necessary services to Nebraska’s children with autism. We urge you to advance this bill. Thank you.

1 Matson, J.L. & Kozlowski, A.M. (2011) “The increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(1), 418-25.
2 Dawson, G. et al. (2010) “Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for toddlers with autism: The Early Start Denver Model.” Pediatrics, 125(1), e17-24.
3 Peters-Scheffer, N., Didden, R., Korzilius, H., & Sturmey, P. (2011) “A meta-analytic study on the effectiveness of comprehensive ABA-based early intervention.” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(1), 60-9.
4 US Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter3/sec6.html#autism

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