Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bill would require insurance plans to cover  Autism treatment for residents; bill in Senate

Matt and Jordan Barnett just want the best for their children, Luke and Landon.

The Atmore couple is starting to breath a little easier after the Alabama State House of Representatives passed HB284 in a unanimous vote last Thursday.

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The bill would require health insurance plans to cover autism treatment, or a certain extent. At present, the bill is in the Senate.

For Luke and Landon, who were diagnosed with autism back to back, the recommended therapy was Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

“When my boys were diagnosed with autism, back to back, ABA therapy was recommended to us as the primary treatment for them,” Jordan said. “Because early intervention is so important in autism, I began calling ABA therapists in our area and provided my Alabama insurance information, anxious to get my boys this therapy as soon as possible.”

Jordan said with each phone call she made, frustration, anger, sadness and fear began to make their presence known.

“I quickly learned that insurance would not cover the expenses of ABA therapy,” she said.

Luke is a non-verbal, sensory-seeking 2 year old, and would need 25 hours of ABA therapy a week at a minimum. Landon is behavioral and socially challenged and would need 15 hours a week.

Jordan said for her children to receive ABA therapy, it would cost a minimum of $5,000 a month out of pocket.

“For me, that is heartbreaking, because I was unable to afford that type of expense,” she said. “Multiple things throughout my boys’ day is a struggle for them. I want the best for them, and to provide the best for them.

“We could relocate to one of the 45 states that insurance does cover ABA therapy, but Alabama is where my home and community of Atmore is,” she said.

Jordan said if the autism bill does pass the Senate, then her children would have the opportunity to receive the care and treatment that could drastically improve their quality of life.

“By providing ABA therapy, simple skills such as eye contact, listening and following directions to complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding social cues —Landon and Luke’s potential could be unlocked,” she said.