Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Crisco wins Senate nod for insurance coverage for autism patients

HARTFORD - State Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, Jr., D-Woodbridge, Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, today won unanimous Senate approval for a  bill to ensure health insurance coverage for autism patients in Connecticut. 
Crisco said the bill was prompted by a concern that some patients might lose their benefits based upon new diagnosis criteria expected imminently from the American Psychiatric Association.
In 2009 Connecticut enacted Crisco’s initiative to extend additional healthcare insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders,  ranging from the most acute autistic disorders to Rett's disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.
“In 2008, we worked hard to enact a law requiring health insurance coverage for physical, speech and occupational therapy for autism patients and then the following year we added mandatory coverage for diagnostic procedures, behavioral therapy for children, prescription medications and psychological and psychiatric treatments,” Crisco said. 
“We cannot risk any backsliding in terms of health insurance coverage for these patients as a result of arbitrary diagnostic criteria from the APA.”
“Connecticut is leading the pack in terms of states that provide for autism patients and their families; with this bill, we underscore our long-term commitment to help the families of those afflicted with autism, especially children,” Crisco said.
Prior to the laws enacted in 2008 and 2009 thousands of Connecticut families were left on their own to underwrite the tens of thousands of dollars required to diagnose, treat and care for autism patients.
“The challenges of raising a child with any condition on the autism spectrum are compounded by communication difficulties and the ‘moving target’ nature of the illness. It’s extremely difficult to determine a long-lasting treatment regimen because symptoms can often change suddenly and quite dramatically,”  Crisco said.
 “This year’s bill would provide families some measure of assurance that their coverage will continue no matter what revisions are made in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

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