Senator Stavisky Applauds Health Insurance Parity For Autism

Toby Ann Stavisky

September 15, 2006

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) today praised a new law extending health insurance coverage to children diagnosed with autism, a neurobiological condition. Under existing law, many health insurance plans that routinely cover similar neurobiological disorders do not cover autism treatment.

"Autism is a complex developmental disability that usually appears during the first three years of life, affecting a child’s ability to communicate and learn," said Senator Stavisky. "This legislation, co-sponsored with bipartisan support, will expedite early diagnosis and treatment, providing parity, or equal treatment, by insurance companies."

Senator Stavisky noted that delayed social skills are a hallmark feature of autism, one of five disorders that fall under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Autism, the most common, affects an estimated 1 in 166 births. Experts say the best way to address the potentially disabling disorder is through early diagnosis and intensive therapy. Yet many children with autism are not properly diagnosed until years after the first symptoms appear.

"This law goes a long way in making sure that chronically ill children get the vital medical care and therapy they need," the Queens lawmaker said. "I’m very pleased that this important bill was passed and signed into law this year."

Senator Stavisky also mentioned her continued support of Timothy's Law, a measure that would require insurance coverage for mental illness to be on par with physical health treatment.

"I have long supported measures for improving New Yorkers' access to affordable, quality health care," Senator Stavisky concluded. "We must take action to be responsive to the special health care needs of all New Yorkers- from toddlers to seniors."