Insurance coverage for autism: What happens next?

Shriver Center Colloquium addresses medical insurance for autism in Massachusetts

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 26, 2011
Shriver Center large

The Shriver Center for Developmental Disabilities recently hosted a colloquium about medical insurance for autism in Massachusetts.

“An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism" (ARICA), signed into law by the Massachusetts state legislature in August 2010, requires that private health insurance companies cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Massachusetts. Removing as it does barriers of cost and access to care, the new law is a major breakthrough for the state’s families affected by autism and the professionals who serve them. 

To help families and care providers realize the full potential of the benefits ARICA provides, the UMass Medical School Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Developmental Disabilities’ Colloquium Series recently hosted “We Got Insurance! What Happens Next? The New Autism Insurance Law in Massachusetts and the New Autism Insurance Resource Center.” Presenter Amy Weinstock, a former fellow of the Shriver Center’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program and now director of the Shriver Center’s new Autism Insurance Resource Center, played a pivotal role in bringing the legislation to Massachusetts. With its goal to support implementation of ARICA, the New England Information on Disabilities Exchange (INDEX) at the Shriver Center established the Autism Insurance Resource Center in March to make information and resources related to medical insurance for autism treatment readily available to consumers and professionals.

Beginning the colloquium with a brief history of ARICA and similar legislation nationwide, Weinstock elucidated the fine points of ARICA, including to whom it applies, what treatments are covered and how to access coverage. She focused particularly on its provisions for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), the gold standard for early intervention in children diagnosed with autism. 

Weinstock, who is the mother of a child with autism and a longtime advocate for autism-related issues, brings the same passion that led to passage of ARICA to her new role in facilitating its implementation. A work in progress, the Autism Insurance Resource Center will expand its current information resources with services to include trainings, webinars and focus groups. To learn more about the Center and ARICA, visit http://www.disabilityinfo.org/arica

Related links: 

Autism at Shriver, part 2: New center offers vital insurance information  
Autism at Shriver, part 3: Creating leaders, changing lives 
New England INDEX (Information on Disabilities Exchange) 
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program