The effort of Utah State Senator Brian Shiozawa to require insurance companies to cover autism treatments has failed. On Feb. 28, Sen. Shiozawa revealed the drastic changes he made to SB55, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Originally, SB55 would have required insurance companies to pay for autism treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA treatment can cost thousands of dollars annually, and very few families can afford the costs out of pocket.
Now, instead of mandating that insurance companies cover treatments that have been accepted by the medical community, SB55 only seeks to expand a pilot program s for children with autism. The expansion would allow 500 children in the state to participate. This number does not come close to meeting the needs of children in the state. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2012 that Utah has the highest rate of autism in the country, with 1 in every 47 children affected by autism. The national average is 1 in every 88 children.
Sen. Shiozawa has worked tirelessly to pass meaningful legislation for children with autism and their families. The new bill is a way to help more children, but it will not be the Senator's last word on the subject of insurance. Shiozawa, who is also an emergency room physician, stated that until insurance reform is achieved, "the pragmatic point is to at least help as many children as we can."
Several other states have passed legislation similar to what Sen. Shiozawa is hoping to pass in Utah. Parents across the country are hoping to see a day when services are covered regardless off the state a child lives in.