Autism bill dubbed 'Luke's Law' advances in House

Luke, 8, diagnosed with autism testified in front of lawmakers

Published  11:18 AM HST Feb 15, 2013
HONOLULU -

The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce unanimously adopted HB721, which would require health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide health care coverage and benefits for autism spectrum disorders beginning next year.

A majority of states have enacted legislation similar to HB 721 which requires that state-regulated health plans cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Actual claims data from states which were among the first to enact such legislation show the average cost of coverage is 31 cents per covered member per month.  The cost of not providing appropriate treatment to individuals with autism has been estimated to be $3.2 million per child over their lifespan.

The bill was originally heard last Wednesday in a hearing that featured the stirring testimony of Luke, an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with autism.   During his courageous testimony, Luke’s difficulties in communicating with others was observed firsthand by legislators as he asked for the help that he needs to better navigate the social world.  The services that would be provided via HB 721, or "Luke’s Law," would equip children like Luke with the social skill set needed to better interact with others thereby enriching their lives.

"The testimony of the brave young boy clearly illustrated the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder," said CPC Chair Angus McKelvey (West Maui, Maalaea, North Kihei).  "Luke’s Law will ensure that Applied Behavior Analysis and/or other treatments will be available to increase the opportunity for keiki and teens to develop the skills and functioning necessary to survive and thrive for adult life."

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