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Ohio Autism Rally: Beneficial Treatments Deserve Medical Coverage

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April 14, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Autism affects an estimated 58,000 Ohioans, and to highlight Autism Awareness Month, individuals with autism, advocates, families and state leaders will gather at the Statehouse for a rally today. The condition is affecting more and more families each day, but treatments and therapies that can help individuals with autism are often expensive and not covered by insurance.

The executive director of the Autism Society of Ohio, Barb Yavorcik, says they are drawing attention to House Bill 8, which requires insurers to cover evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapies.

"People aren't aware that parents who have a child with autism can't get coverage for their kids, and in the end it comes down to, 'Do we mortgage our house to provide medical services?' I mean, that's why we buy insurance in the first place."

Yavorcik says that in the absence of coverage families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year.

Experts say an early, intensive treatment program can result in a better prognosis overall and better outcomes later in life. And Yavorcik says that, with rising autism rates, measures are needed to help families get the help they need as soon as a diagnosis is made.

"The sooner you can get intervention the sooner you can perhaps head off some of the behaviors and teach these individuals the appropriate skills they need to cope and to function."

Currently, autism affects an estimated 1 in 110 American children.

House Bill 8 was passed by the House and is now under consideration in the Senate. Today's rally begins at 11 a.m. on the South Lawn of the Statehouse.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH