Featured LEND Alumni
Architect of the ARICA Bill Mandating Private Insurance Coverage for Autism Services in Massachusetts
|Photo by Judith Ursitti|
In August 2010 the Massachusetts state legislature, followed by Governor Deval Patrick's historic signing of H.3809 (better known as "An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism," or ARICA), enacted a law requiring private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Massachusetts.
This legislation was the brainchild of the UMMS-Shriver Center LEND program alumna, Amy K. Weinstock who is also the parent of a child with autism. Ms. Weinstock conceived of the bill in 2005 while completing her year-long LEND capstone project that investigated national insurance policies and practices for ABA services for people with autism. She later became Chair of the Insurance Policy Committee for Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) where Ms. Weinstock would later enlist the expertise of two other LEND alumni, also parents of children with autism: Nan Leonard, JD, EdS, MHA, BCBA (2007) who used her legal skills to help draft the bill, and Maura Buckley, MPA (2008) who worked closely with local media to promote ARICA's importance to children and families.
According to Ms. Weinstock, the bill is "one of the most comprehensive of its kind; individuals with autism will have coverage for medically necessary treatment with no age caps or dollar limits. ARICA covers people with autism … whether they are 2 or 82... [a]nd the amount of treatment, just like chemotherapy and radiation for cancer patients, is based on medical necessity, not an arbitrary dollar cap."
This endeavor was a collaborative one that included a host of passionate and dedicated advocates, legislators, and families whose efforts will bring about important changes in the lives of people with autism in Massachusetts. We sincerely applaud and thank all involved for their efforts.
Ms. Weinstock has recently joined the Shriver Center as the Director of our newly created Autism Insurance Resource Center through the Shriver Center's New England INDEX. The Center provides information and support for community members, providers, employers, and educators on issues related to medical insurance for autism treatment. For more information go to: http://www.disabilityinfo.org/arica/
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