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Category Archives: Autism Advocacy

Six-Year Quest For Kansas Autism Insurance Reform Ends in Victory

OVERLAND PARK, KS (April 16, 2014) — Governor Sam Brownback today signed legislation expanding autism insurance coverage beyond the state employee health benefit program, culminating a six-year campaign to enact more meaningful reform in Kansas. Enactment of the law also made Kansas the 10th state to amend its original autism insurance law to make it stronger.

“Autism Speaks applauds Governor Brownback’s support of the autism community,” said Mike Wasmer, a Kansas resident who serves as Autism Speaks’ director of state government affairs.  “This bill is an important step toward providing access to medically necessary treatment for all individuals with autism in Kansas.”

Sponsored by Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee), the new law, HB.2744, will require state-regulated large group and “grandfathered” small group individual health plans to cover medically necessary treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), for autism for children up to age 12.

The bill as initially proposed by the House Insurance Committee would have limited ABA coverage to 10 hours per week, but was raised after vigorous opposition from the state’s autism community. As enacted, the new law allows for 25 hours per week of ABA for four years from the time of diagnosis and then reduces to 10 hours per week.

The new law is spearate from the state’s 2010 autism insurance reform law which applies only to state employees. The 2010 legislation when introduced would have covered the private market, but was amended into a pilot program limited to state employees to gauge the impact on health care costs. When the 2010 law was enacted, Wasmer, then president of the Kansas Coalition for Autism Legislation (KCAL), said, “This is not the end, but rather the start of getting autism treatment to all in need in the state of Kansas.”

After being judged a success, the program was made permanent for state employees, but Kansas lawmakers continued to resist efforts to expand the coverage to the private market. In 2012, efforts to force a bill out of a committee fell one vote shy of success.

After Rubin introduced a bill this year that would have provided broader coverage, the insurance lobby filed a second version with much more restrictive terms and would have cut back existing benefits for state workers. After heated opposition from the state’s autism community, HB.2744 was introduced as a compromise measure.

Wasmer said the new law marks a step forward, but that efforts will continue to provide the best coverage for the most children. The existing state employee autism benefit will continue unaffected by the  new law.

 

The original article can be found on the Autism Speaks website at the link below:

https://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/six-year-quest-kansas-autism-insurance-reform-ends-victory

#35: Utah Enacts Autism Insurance Reform

SALT LAKE CITY (April 3, 2014) — — Gov. Gary Herbert today signed legislation making Utah the 35th state to enact autism insurance reform. Utah has one of the nation’s highest rates of prevalence for autism at 1 in 54, or about 2 percent of the state population.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa (at the podium) and Governor Herbert

Sponsored by Sen. Brian Shiozowa, the bill (SB.57) was fiercely opposed by the insurance industry. The enactment of the law culminated six years of effort by the Utah Autism Coalition, providers and families to end insurance company discrimination against people with autism.

“Autism Speaks commends Senator Brian Shiozawa for his leadership in delivering for the Utah autism community,” said Mike Wasmer, Autism Speaks’ associate director of state government affairs. “The Utah Autism Coalition has fought hard to make this day happen and we were proud to be their partner.”

The law requires many state-regulated health plans to cover speech, occupational and physical therapy, psychological and psychiatric care, and behavioral health treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA).

 

The original article was posted on Autism Speaks website here https://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/35-utah-enacts-autism-insurance-reform

 

Autism Speaks Investment Conference

“The second day of the 2014 Autism Speaks Autism Investment Conference closed with a focus on the need for more employment opportunities for teens and adults with autism.

“Adults with autism have an estimated 90 percent unemployment rate,” said moderator Leslie Long, Autism Speaks assistant director of adult services. “We have to explore all options available to advance employment opportunities for this population, including investing in companies that hire and support adults on the spectrum.”

Long stressed the need for employers to understand the value of hiring employees with autism. She encouraged businesses and organizations large and small to tap into the strengths that adults with autism can bring to the workplace.

More and more businesses are hiring individuals with autism, she noted, and many have seen tremendous success as a result. The companies showcased in the sessions illustrated some of the opportunities to capitalize on the potential of young adults and adults living with autism.

Employment Services Showcase

Last year, Autism Speaks featured AutonomyWorks as an exemplary employer in its Small Business Initiative. The company connects individuals who have autism with companies needing workers in areas such as website maintenance and quality assurance. “There are hundreds of thousands of potential workers with autism spectrum disorders whose skills and abilities are perfectly matched to these business tasks,” said Dave Friedman, AutonomyWorks founder and CEO (at left).

AutonomyWorks currently employs 15 adults on the autism spectrum and provides workers for six clients. These clients range from start-up companies to some of the world’s largest ad agencies. AutonomyWorks’ goal is to employ 10,000 associates, have a service centers across the nation and inspire others to develop similar business models. “Workers with autism want to contribute their talents to the business community and to society,” Friedman said. “AutonomyWorks is here to help.”

Houlton Institute is an innovative online education provider. Thanks to a grant from Autism Speaks, Houlton and the Autistic Global Initiative developed an online course that provides training for residential and daily-living care providers. As part of this partnership, Houlton hired several faculty members and teaching assistants on the autism spectrum, said co-founder Dan Merritts (at left).

MindSpark Technologies founder Chad HahnMindSpark Technologies (Santa Monica, Calif.)  is an outsourced information technology company providing employment opportunities for individuals with specialized abilities – including adults with autism. “At MindSpark, we’re about more than just a job,” said founder Chad Hahn (left). “We believe in both the personal and the professional well-being of our team.  We’re creating a family atmosphere in and out of the office, building bonds we hope will last for a lifetime.” Chad and the company’s other principal owners are working without pay to launch and manage the enterprise. Investment will enable MindSpark to train and hire more employees, who will share in profit distributions. Enhancing the investment opportunity, Hahn explained, MindSpark incorporated as one of California’s nonprofit “benefit corporations.”

 

This article was published on March 5, 2014 on the Autism Speaks website. The original post can be found at https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/focus-employment-opportunities-autism-investment-conference

Lighthouse is Reaching Out

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If there is one thing at Lighthouse that we are most proud of it is our continued effort to reach further to ensure that we are constantly and consistently providing the best therapy to our kids, we are excited to announce our partnership with Western Michigan University’s graduate program in behavior analysis.

The reason we decided to work with Western Michigan University is because they are known worldwide as one of the best ABA universities producing world class practitioners. Again, this allows us to be confident in our pursuit of helping each child achieve his or her fullest potential.

We are working closely with Dr. Richard Malott, a professor of psychology and member of the behavior analysis faculty at WMU. Dr. Malott is considered a leader in the field of ABA. He has won 2 Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards as well as the ABAI’s Award for Public Service in Behavior Analysis. His active involvement in the Association for Behavior Analysis International ensures that he stays in touch with ABA best practices. Dr. Malott is also responsible for developing the Behavior Analysis Training System at WMU. The BATS system is considered one of the most prominent ABA graduate programs in the United States and we are thankful to consider him part of our team.

If you have any questions about WMU, Dr. Malott or how Lighthouse can help you please give us a call. We will continue to strive to exceed expectations and offer Lighthouse families and the community the best ABA therapy available.