Chafee signs autism insurance bill


Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a new bill into law Thursday at the State House that will require insurance companies to cover autism treatments.

Rhode Island becomes the 26th state to require coverage. Just six years ago, only one state had similar legislation.

“The finances of dealing with the situation is an added burden, so at least this bill relieves some of the stresses associated with this disorder,” Chafee said. “Their children will be able to actually speak, point or make a friend…basic human needs.”

Under the new law, state regulated health plans will now cover screenings, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Judith Ursitti, the mother of an autistic child, said the treatments can really add up.

“It’s surreal especially when you’ve been paying your insurance and you think when you’ve given a diagnosis and you’re given prescriptions that your insurance will take care of it, but truly because its autism, it’s denied,” she said.

Joanne Quinn also has an autistic child. She said the bill will help families provide early intervention which she said is key.

“As our kids with autism get better we all get better and we all have a great quality of life, and hopefully with the early intervention, we’ll all be able to get there,” Quinn said.

Some lawmakers told NBC 10 that they are still not happy with some of the language in the bill. They said they plan to work again on it next year to make the bill even better.

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