SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich today signed a new law designed to help autistic children get access to new treatments. House Bill 4125 mandates that private and government insurance plans pay for an additional 20 speech therapy sessions every year for developmentally disabled children. The measure sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) provides financial support and assistance for families raising autistic children.
“The parents of autistic and developmentally disabled children face enough challenges already. Figuring out how to pay for treatment shouldn’t be one of them,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “New treatments are available to help autistic children and in Illinois, we’re going to make sure that insurance covers them.”
The law requires all state and local insurance plans, as well as private insurance plans offered by many employers, to pay for the treatment of pervasive developmental disorders and requires group health benefit plans to provide coverage for 20 additional outpatient visits for speech therapy. The law takes effect immediately, and as plans are renewed over the course of the next year, the additional coverage will be included in the new policies.
“Speech therapy is one of the most effective ways to help children with autism,” Sen. Garrett said. “It is essential that they receive sufficient and appropriate treatment at an early age to ensure the development of necessary communications skills.”
In addition to expanding insurance coverage of speech therapy for autistic and developmentally disabled children, Governor Blagojevich has supported other programs designed to support parents and provide the best possible treatment for their children.
The Governor’s All Kids program will make healthcare a reality for thousands of children across the state – including autistic children – who are living without it now. All Kids will cover a wide range of services for children with autism including psychiatric services, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupation therapy, medications, and medically necessary services rendered by eligible All Kids providers to eligible participants. Every child enrolled in All Kids will have coverage for doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has provided $2.5 million in funding to the Autism Program, which provides support for parents of autistic children and services for people with autism and developmental disabilities. The Autism Program is established at three sites in Illinois: Chicago, Springfield and Carbondale. Each site provides diagnostic, treatment and consulting services as part of a larger training venue.
Through a partnership of The Autism Program and the Illinois Autism Task Force a comprehensive website has been developed with a vision to offer information and resources available on autism in Illinois. Its goal, with the support of IDHS, is to help to create and enhance linkages between individuals and their families, teachers, physicians, providers and any others seeking resources in Illinois related to autism and developmental disorders.