Assemblyman Weisenberg: New Law Will Help Families Cover Autism Expenses

November 2, 2011
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) announced today that an autism bill that he sponsored was signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The new law will require health insurance companies to cover the costs relating to the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

“For too long, parents have had to bear the burden of expensive medical costs when it comes to autism disorders,” Weisenberg said. “Thanks to this new law New York families will get the needed coverage to care for their loved ones.”

Currently insurance companies are required to include the diagnosis and treatment of autism in their plan. They are not required to provide specifics on their coverage, which often leads to gaps in insurance plans. Thanks to this new law that will no longer be the case. The new law spells out exactly what is required of insurance companies. Insurance providers must now cover costs relating to the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

The new law shifts the cost of expensive medical tests and treatments from the backs of families and taxpayers to insurance companies. Autism treatment can cost upward of $50,000 per year for those families affected by it.

New York has joined 29 other states in requiring health insurance coverage for conditions relating to autism spectrum disorders. Approximately 30,000 individuals under the age of 19 in the state of New York have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.

This is only the latest step Weisenberg has taken in his fight for people with special needs. In 2007, Weisenberg championed Jonathan’s Law, which ensures that families receive swift notification and access to records of abuse their child may have suffered in state run facilities. He has also written laws that require early medical screening and course work for teachers and administrators on the needs of children with autism.

The new law will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2012, and will apply to insurance policies issued or renewed after that date.