Autism therapy coverage now available after lawsuit - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Autism therapy coverage now available after class-action lawsuit

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- A new settlement is giving some families with autistic children the chance to get insurance coverage for a common type of autism therapy.

A therapy used to treat autism, called Applied Behavioral Analysis, is one of the most prescribed therapies, but parents can't get coverage for it. A settlement Monday is making that possible for families with a state insurance plan.

Laurie Sarver, a mother of an autistic son, volunteers at the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick where her son Jacob takes classes. She knows first hand how autism therapies can be expensive and families need help.

"Every child with Autism is different so children need to have the opportunity to have the therapy that best meets their needs," says Sarver.

Now some parents who work for the state, school districts or local government with health insurance through the state's Uniform Medical Plan can get coverage for ABA therapy. A class-action lawsuit filed against the state's Health Care Authority reached a settlement Monday. Health Care Authority's Assistant Director, Louis McDermott, says they are pleased with the settlement.

"HCA understands that Autism can be a devastating blow to families and this settlement will help our members better cope with this condition," says McDermott.

Natalie Cobb teaches at the Responding to Autism Center and sees the treatment is effective developmentally and financially.

"Having access to those therapies, it can dramatically change the long term outcome of how much that child will depend on long term services. So having those things available at a young age can make a really big difference and can cut the costs long term," says Cobb.@

Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy CEO, Arzu Forough, hopes this settlement is a jumping point for coverage for all.

"Most physicians and parents are convinced there is no hope through insurance and so they don't even try. So my hope is that we can somehow compel families to come forward and look at our resources, try to appeal denials, and try to get coverage," says Forough.

The therapy coverage will start January 13th for those insured with the Uniform Medical Plan. Some locally covered by this provider work for the Richland School District, Franklin County and the Port of Benton.

Thirty-one states passed autism insurance mandates, but Washington has not.