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Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs Bill Ensuring Continuity of Care for Children, Young Adults with Autism

Thursday, July 10, 2008 General News J E 4
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HARRISBURG, Pa., July 9 Governor Edward G.Rendell today signed House Bill 1150 into law, groundbreaking legislation thatwill provide unprecedented new protections for children and young adults withAutism Spectrum Disorder.

By requiring private insurers to cover medically necessary treatments forindividuals with autism up to age 21, the new law will improve access toessential services and treatments by building a stronger provider network forthousands of children and their families. Insurers will be responsible for thecost of treatment up to $36,000 per year. Advocates praise Pennsylvania's newlaw as being among the nation's best.

"This is a major victory for Pennsylvania families whose lives areaffected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. The number of children diagnosed withautism continues to rise, along with the cost of those services," saidGovernor Rendell. "By requiring private health insurers to shoulder their fairshare of the cost of treatment, we're taking steps to address the gap in theprivate insurance market and reduce reliance on government programs as theprimary source of services and funding."

Currently, many private insurance programs restrict coverage for certainservices for individuals with autism. In Pennsylvania, the Department ofPublic Welfare provides health care coverage for children with disabilitiesthrough the Medical Assistance program without regard to family income andcovers costs that private insurance does not pay.

"Five years ago, Public Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman convened theAutism Task Force, bringing families and practitioners together to begin thecritical work of ensuring the very unique needs of children and their familiesliving with autism were being met," Governor Rendell said. "Mandatingcoverage for families was one of their key recommendations and we're pleasedtoday to have new laws in place that will bring relief to so many Pennsylvaniafamilies."

Under the new law, treatments and services for autism, includingpsychiatric care, psychological care, rehabilitative care including appliedbehavioral analysis, therapeutic care and pharmacy care will be covered, aswell as those services proven to prevent regression.

For more information on services available for children living withautism, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate publiceducation system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuingeconomic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find outmore about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weeklynewsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116 Stacey Witalec, DPW 717-787-4592

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
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