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This Autism Therapy Will Be a Mandatory Benefit for Federal Employees

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Starting in 2017, all health insurance plans within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — covering federal employees, retirees and their dependents — must include applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA) for children with autism.

A letter sent last week from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Healthcare and Insurance to carriers read:

Carriers may no longer exclude ABA for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We expect all carriers to offer clinically appropriate and medically necessary treatment for children diagnosed with ASD.

ABA therapy is “the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of behavior theory to improve socially significant behaviors, including reading, academics, social skills, communication and adaptive living skills, to a meaningful degree.”

“[The Office of Personnel Management] has closely monitored both the research supporting ABA and the provider supply which has increased in recent years,” OPM spokesperson Edmund Byrnes told Disability Scoop. “Our 2017 requirement reflects the needs of our members, the growing number of qualified providers who can safely and effectively offer ABA, as well as research linking behavioral interventions for children with ASD with positive outcomes.”

Scott Badesch, President/CEO of the Autism Society of America, told The Mighty his organization likes to see more and more insurance coverage for “important services for helping individuals living with autism each day.”

We encourage parents of younger age children to get as much reliable research on various treatment efforts and talk with professionals on the merits of each treatment and support in terms of helping their child maximize their quality of life,” he said in an email.

h/t Disability Scoop

Originally published: March 2, 2016
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