Monday, August 11, 2008
ASAT provided the following letter to the Special Advisory Committee of the Virginia Insurance Commission following testimony advocating for passage of Virginia HB 83. This house bill would mandate insurance companies to cover treatment for those diagnosed with ASD.
August 8, 2008
Special Advisory Committee –HB83
c/o Ms. Florence Morris
Sr. Insurance Analyst
Bureau of Insurance
1300 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Special Advisory Committee,
I am a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Virginia and a board member for the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT). ASAT is a nonprofit organization with the mission to inform the public about science-based autism treatments and to increase access to effective intervention for those affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As such we are interested House Bill 83 as it relates to improved access to empirically-supported intervention procedures for individuals with ASD. Thus, we encourage the Special Advisory Committee to issue a strong position of support for requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for effective autism treatments. We commend you for taking on this noteworthy task of providing guidance on this bill.
The interests of HB 83 are directly in line with ASAT's mission, and thus we offer our support and guidance in providing the most up to date information, inclusive of peer-reviewed journals and findings of multidisciplinary task forces with this same mission. We direct the committee to the numerous state task forces (e.g., New York State Department of Health, Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities) which have comprehensively reviewed the autism treatment literature and the U.S. Surgeon General's report on autism which unanimously found overwhelming and clear evidence that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most effective autism intervention, and went so far as to recommend it as a primary treatment modality. Hundreds of research articles in peer-reviewed journals also substantiate the effectiveness of ABA as a treatment for this population. It is very important that these sources and their findings be included in your review of the literature, as they relate to significant improvements in behaviors associated with autism. Without increased insurance coverage, individuals with this disorder are less likely to achieve independence, communicate appropriately and make contributions to society. We hope you will also utilize our treatment summary review of existing research which can be found on our website at www.asatonline.org.
Though not an easy or inexpensive approach, and certainly not a cure for autism, ABA has been shown to offer a cost savings over a lifetime of care. I urge you to engage your committee in in-depth, current study of the autism treatment field so that you can provide a position that there are effective interventions for this population and that individuals with ASD should not be excluded from coverage by insurance companies because of their diagnosis. Know that your efforts can alleviate the suffering and outcome of those affected by this growing disorder. The first step is to provide accurate information and require insurance coverage that leads to real hope. If I can be a further reference for your committee, please contact me at (703) 855-4032.
Jane M. Barbin, PhD, BCBA
Public Relations Committee