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Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs Bill Ensuring Continuity of Care for Children, Young Adults with Autism
Date:7/9/2008

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed House Bill 1150 into law, groundbreaking legislation that will provide unprecedented new protections for children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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

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

Currently, many private insurance programs restrict coverage for certain services for individuals with autism. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Public Welfare provides health care coverage for children with disabilities through the Medical Assistance program without regard to family income and covers costs that private insurance does not pay.

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

Under the new law, treatments and services for autism, including psychiatric care, psychological care, rehabilitative care including applied behavioral analysis, therapeutic care and pharmacy care will be covered, as well as those services proven to prevent regression.

For more information on services available for children living with autism, visit http://www.dpw.state.pa.us.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit http://www.governor.state.pa.us.

CONTACT:

Chuck Ardo

717-783-1116

Stacey Witalec, DPW

717-787-4592


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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