The Pierre Capitol Journal has a big story today on the passage of House Bill 1257 to cover the treatment of autism with ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.
It might not seem like a big measure to many, but for the parents of kids with autism (disclaimer, including myself, and I’m active on the measure), it’s been a long time in coming to make South Dakota join the rest of the country on this:
The House of Representatives approved HB 1257 on a 57-12 vote. The bill, which was sponsored by the House Committee on Health and Human Services, would require insurance companies in the state to cover applied behavior analysis, or ABA, therapy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified with a form of autism. The CDC says ABA therapy is widely accepted among health care professionals.
With early diagnosis and ABA therapy, children diagnosed with autism can often be mainstreamed into regular education classes.
Christian Stanley, 5, hopes to be one of those mainstreamed children. Christian was diagnosed with autism shortly before turning 4. After his diagnosis, Christian began to spend 35 to 40 hours a week with a therapist while at home and school. The therapy has allowed Christian to interact with children his own age – something which was difficult before he began therapy.
Several members of the House voiced support for the bill on Monday. Rep. Ecklund, R-Brandon, said 47 percent of children who receive ABA treatment are mainstreamed by the time they reach middle school. Ecklund said the cost of a child that goes untreated for autism could be as high as $3.2 million during a child’s lifetime.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 34 states have enacted autism insurance laws that would require coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism, which would include ABA therapy.
The reality of it is, aside from being a pro-family measure, as it affects 1 in every 88 kids, it’s a pro-taxpayer measure.
There are over 1900 people identified in South Dakota as being affected by autism. Take that times $3.2 million average cost (and the article gets it wrong, it’s $3.2 M average, not high). That’s a cost to taxpayers of $6.08 BILLION with a B over the lifespan of the affected children. If we can reduce that cost for taxpayers in half or more, we owe it to ourselves to give them a chance.
A facebook group advocating Autism Insurance Reform in South Dakota has been started at https://www.facebook.com/groups/pairsd/.
If Autism has touched you, a family member, or a friend, feel free to check it out, and join.