May 03, 2007
HB1224 and Applied Behavior Analysis

It's easy to forget sometimes as we follow the politics of things like toll road moratoriums and primary dates that there are bills in the Lege that can have a huge positive effect on people's lives, if only they can make it through the process unmolested. HB1224 is one such bill. Pete explains why:

HB 1224 - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for enrollees with autism spectrum disorder, passed out of the Insurance Committee in the Texas Legislature earlier this week, and the Committee report was sent to Calendars on Tuesday. The bill is a companion to SB 419, which passed the Senate floor unanimously, with one exception: HB 1224 came out of Committee with an amendment removing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy from the list of services mandated for children aged 3-5.

ABA therapy as it pertains to children on the autistic spectrum involves teaching social and verbal skills to those not able to learn such things normally, which is to say through observation and imitation. In re-routing these learning pathways, the hope is to get the child back on course to mainstream life. It's intense - 20-40 hours a week of therapy in most cases, much of it one-on-one - and it's expensive, putting most college tuition structures to shame.

ABA is also effective. Half of children who have an early, intensive ABA program are able to function in normal schools with minimal or no support. It's considered the most effective early intervention for young children with autism, and has been recommended by the Surgeon General since 1987.

Finally, it mitigates the cost to the state, estimated at $3 million over an autistic person's lifetime, if they don't receive early intervention. Contrast this with the cost of a .5% increase in insurance premiums.

In its original form, HB1224 would be directly beneficial to a large number of children in Texas, while at the same time being fiscally prudent for taxpayers. In its present form, as amended by the House Insurance Committee, that benefit disappears. That's just wrong.

The good news is that it can still be fixed. I urge you to read Pete's post so you can understand the personal stake he and his family have in this, and then take the time to call your State Rep and ask him or her to support putting ABA coverage back in HB1224. Thanks very much.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 03, 2007 to That's our Lege

Sometimes (mind you, *only* sometimes) I wished I still lived in Texas so I can vote and urge my rep to vote against stupid stuff like this. As I said on Pete's - I hope Rep. Dingleberry gets thrashed in teh next election.


Posted by: Wich on May 3, 2007 1:31 PM