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Utah lawmakers look at extending autism treatment coverage

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are looking at helping families struggling to pay for autism therapy for their children.

State law as it currently sits has some caps on the age and hours for Applied Behavioral Analysis therapies, or ABA. SB 95 would make more insurance plans cover the treatment, regardless of age or the hours needed.

Parents testified in committee of the challenges they face, but when they could get the right kind of therapy, it made a huge difference. The CDC says one in 44 Utah children has autism.

“We’ve made sacrifices to keep him in ABA, and that’s probably the biggest testimony I can give, is that we will continue to do that as long as we can,” said Ed Lamb, one of the parents in attendance.

Ben Hart, another parent spoke about his son, “He’s 8 years old, we are not experts in medicine or autism or even our own son. Our expectations and hopes for him change all the time,” he said.

“I can absolutely witness to the impact of ABA therapy. It is incredibly potent,” he continued.

The bill passed unanimously out of committee and moves to the Senate.

Some private insurance groups have already opted to cover the service because they say it’s the right thing to do. But larger health plans from out-of-state groups are run by the federal government and would not be covered by this bill.