Making Quality Autism Treatment Affordable for Families

A new case of autism is diagnosed every 20 minutes - making it the fastest-growing serious developmental condition in America. If the pace of this disorder continues, autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next 10 years. Despite autism's far reach, insurance companies still deny families coverage for necessary treatments - costing them up to $6,000 out-of-pocket each month.

the full county-by-county report on how many New York families are affected by ASD.

To help improve the lives of children and families living with ASD, Senator Gillibrand has developed a three-point plan:

1. Mandate Insurance Companies to Cover Autism

It's time for insurance companies to stop denying coverage to families living with ASD. It's a cost they just can't afford, and a drain on the entire economy. That's why Senator Gillibrand is joining her colleague Senator Dick Durbin to co-sponsor the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act to stand up to big insurance companies and mandate they cover ASD.  The bill would require all private insurers nationwide to cover evidence-based, medically-necessary autism treatments and therapies - including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.

ABA is a scientifically validated treatment program for ASD, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Academy of Sciences. ABA therapy is proven effective, but only at the recommended levels of 25-40 hours a week - a level that can cost families up to $6,000 each week, which many families just can't afford in these tough economic times, or any time. The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act would make sure families can get the treatment their children need through coverage they can afford.

2. Author New Legislation to Cover Autism for Military Families

TRICARE - the military health insurance program - currently considers ABA therapy special education and not medically necessary treatment, and caps coverage for ABA at $3,000 a month. That amounts to only 16 hours of therapy a month - a fraction of what's necessary to actually improve the life of a child suffering from autism. As a result, military families are forced to choose between paying out-of-pocket to get the therapy their children need, or forgoing therapy altogether. What is worse, thousands of military families are forced to the bottom of long waiting lists for a specialist each time they are relocated.

To combat these problems and help take the strain of military families living with autism, Senator Gillibrand is authoring and introducing the USA Heroes Act to require TRICARE to cover autism treatment, including ABA therapy to help military families get the care their children need.

3. Increase Federal Investments for Autism Research

Cutting-edge research holds the potential to help children suffering with autism live better, healthier lives, and one day lead to a cure. That's why Senator Gillibrand is calling for a portion of the $10 billion that was allocated under the Economic Recovery plan for the NIH, be dedicated to research ASD. With better funded research, scientists and laboratories will have the resources they need to reach breakthroughs to improve care - helping children with autism get the care they need in early stages and help them live long, healthy, successful lives.

Senator Gillibrand's three-point plan to address autism is part of her broad agenda to improve the lives of children and families across New York. As a mother and a lawmaker, Senator Gillibrand is a strong voice for New York families. One of her first acts as Senator helped President Obama reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program - providing health care for 11 million low and middle-income children across America.