Autism treatment options opening up

Chris Dunham, PDT Sports Writer

December 25, 2012

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Gov. John Kasich recently announced a policy change that will allow Ohio families with children with autism to have access to needed services.

According to released information from Kasich’s communication department, “the general assembly has been debating legislation that would make autism services a mandated benefit in Ohio’s private health insurance market, and Kasich make his decision to expand the availability of services for children with autism only after close consultation with legislative leaders and members of both chambers.”

“When we have the chance to do the right thing, we better do it because we don’t want to live life with any regrets. We’re doing the right thing today. Helping kids with autism get the services they need, and helping their parents get the financial lifeline of insurance coverage, that’s something I support for state employees and other families as well. With early intervention, kids with autism do better at school, find employment, and become more independent, connected adults in our communities,” Kasich said in a released statement. “I continue to be inspired by the courage of so many committed families who work and fight to give their kids the best possible chance and success. We’re not going to turn out backs on them. In fact, we’re extending them our hands and are going to bring them along.”

Both national and local autism groups have come out in favor of this change.

Mike Bell, President of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio said this is something the group has been working toward for a while now.

“This is a fantastic thing to happen in Ohio,” Bell said. “This is going to take a lot of stress off of people. I run into so many people who work and have health insurance through their employer that may not accept autism, because its a preexisting illness or injury. Some insurance companies might limit the amount of speech or occupational therapy covered. There is a lot of employers in the area who hire part-time without health benefits but, they make to much money to get a medical card.”

He said in those cases the necessary hospital visits and bills are paid for by the parents.

The national group Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization, praised Kasich for the change.

“Autism is a national public health crisis, and providing access to meaningful health insurance coverage for the treatment of autism is a fiscal and moral imperative,” said Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks’ vice president of state government affairs.

According to information released by Autism Speaks, “Governor Kasich has guaranteed that Ohioans with autism will have access to meaningful health insurance that includes coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) when purchased through Ohio’s federally managed exchange beginning in 2014.

According to the Ohio News Connection, 32 other states have enacted similar legislation including Kentucky and West Virginia.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.