BATON ROUGE - Freshman representative Franklin Foil's House Bill 958 on autism was signed into law by Governor Jindal on July 2. Autism is a neurological illness that effects 1 in 150 children. Based on this number, Foil's bill will help thousands of children in Louisiana.
HB 958 requires many health insurance plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This treatment will include Applied Behavioural Analysis, which is recommended by the surgeon general as an effective treatment for people with autism.
The bill passed 4 committees and both the house and senate floor without opposition. Many families of children with autism came out to support Representative Foil, wearing red and holding signs of their children with autism.
"It really opens the doors for families who have autistic children who need expensive health services like Applied Behavioral Analysis," said Representative Foil.
Foil is optimistic about the future for children with autism in Louisiana. According to a 2006 Harvard Study, the lifetime societal cost of caring for one person with autism is $3.2 million dollars.
"By giving these children the services they need, we will enable them to become fully functional tax paying citizens in the future, which will drastically reduce future societal costs," said Foil.
HB 958 will officially go into effect August 15, 2008. However, coverage will not be mandated until January 1, 2009 for new policies written or when existing policies are renewed. The bill will not apply to policies that cover businesses with 50 or fewer employees.