Nebraska governor signs autism coverage bill

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April 22nd, 2014

Omaha, NE — Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB 254 into law Monday. The autism coverage bill requires some health insurance plans in Nebraska to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in a child until the age of 21.

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Sen. Colby Coash said behavioral health treatment, which is covered under the bill, will provide a better quality of life for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

“This therapy opens doors and what it does for children is allows them to interact in a world in a way that they wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this therapy,” Coash said. “That saves money in the long run because those children grow up to be adults who work, who are productive and who live independently.”

The treatment will be limited to 25 hours per week and the insurer will be able to review the treatment once every six months.

Rene Ferdinand is the CEO of the Autism Center of Nebraska. He said while a lot resources have been poured into special education throughout Nebraska school districts, the same isn’t true for early intervention and behavioral therapies for students with autism.

“There’s been a lot of research and one of the few things they’ve been able to show about autism is the earlier the intervention the better the long term diagnosis and outcomes are,” Ferdinand said. “Getting that early intervention is extremely important. It helps them become more independent later in life and less reliant on public programs.”

Colleen Jankovich hopes the bill will assist with the care of her 11 -year-old son Matthew. She said the state pays $126,000 annually to Medicaid to care for Matthew.

“I’m so grateful to everyone for everything they’ve done because it means there’s a future in our state for our children and that’s all that matters.”

An estimated 1,000 families will be affected by the bill, according to Sen. Coash.

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