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New Law Expands Services for KY Children with Autism

January 3, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The New Year brings Kentucky a new law that requires insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, treatment and therapies of children with autism. Former state representative Scott Brinkman of Louisville, who is the father of a 26-year-old son with autism, sponsored the legislation. It provides a maximum $50,000 annual insurance benefit for treatment, services and therapies for autistic children ages one through six who are covered under state employee or large group health benefit plans.

Brinkman says the legislation underscores the need to intervene in the early years.

"The intensive therapies that we know can make a dramatic difference at that age range, when the brain is still forming, will be available for these children. "

The new law also makes youth between the ages of seven and 21 with autism eligible for a maximum monthly insurance benefit of $1000 for treatment.

Sheila Schuster, executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, is a psychiatrist who once treated children with autism. She applauds the new law for its multi-disciplinary approach in covering a wide range of intensive therapies, including behavioral, speech and physical.

"Parents have found that their insurance coverage has been very difficult to obtain and often did not cover the full range of services that we think are necessary to really address this developmental disability."

Brinkman, who retired last year from the Kentucky General Assembly after 10 years of service, sees the new law as his legislative legacy, and fulfillment of his personal crusade to help kids with autism overcome learning and social limitations.

"These generations of children that are eligible for this benefit will have a much better chance at leading a much normal life than our son and young adults of comparable age."

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY