Concord, NH (January 6, 2010) Autism Speaks today joined New Hampshire families and advocates in applauding the members of the State House for passing Connor's Law, House Bill 569, an amendment to current law that will require insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, including behavioral health treatments. The bill passed the New Hampshire House today by a vote of 213-147 and now heads to the State Senate for concurrence.
Connor's Law amends existing mental health parity law in the state by clarifying the inclusion of treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Under Connor's Law, insurance companies would be required to provide coverage of treatment for ASD, including behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Connor's Law was sponsored in the House by Representative Suzanne Butcher (D-Cheshire, District 3). Representative Susi Nord (D-Rockingham, District 1) also worked tirelessly to move the bill out of committee.
"Passage of Connors Law by the New Hampshire House today is another significant victory in the national effort to secure insurance coverage of behavioral health treatments in all fifty states and provide families affected by autism with the help they so desperately need and deserve," said Peter Bell, Executive Vice President for Programs & Services for Autism Speaks. "We thank the New Hampshire autism community, as well as Representative Butcher, Representative Nord, and their colleagues in the House for having the courage to put New Hampshires families and their needs first."
Most states do not require private insurance companies to cover even essential autism treatments and services. In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children essentially mortgaging their entire futures.
New Hampshire could become the sixteenth state to enact an autism insurance reform law. So far, fifteen states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin -- have enacted this legislation. An amendment that requires coverage of behavioral health treatments has also been added to the health care reform bills currently moving through Congress.
Passage of Connors Law took a lot of work, but parent advocates and our partners in the House were successful in educating New Hampshires Representatives about autism its impact on families, the fact that there are effective treatments, and the long term societal costs that would result if we failed to treat our children with autism, said Kirsten Murphy, Autism Speaks New Hampshire CAC and Administrative Director New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Im incredibly proud of everyone who rallied around our children and participated in this effort.