For families with a loved one with autism and other developmental disabilities, it can be daunting to find the help needed.
It is why the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) is spreading the word about the New Jersey Autism Therapy Mandate, and its most recent amendments. The law ensures that individual and small employer health benefits carriers throughout New Jersey are required to cover the treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities.
This mandate is of critical importance, as the Centers for Disease Control has reported that New Jersey has the highest-ever documented rate of autism nationally, now nearly 3 percent, with nearly 5 percent of 8-year-old boys in the state on the autism spectrum, as of 2014.
Our state lawmakers have since passed amendments to ensure that coverage expands to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, as the original law capped the mandate at age 21. Also, there no longer exists a 30-visit maximum for occupational, physical and speech therapies to treat autism.
While NJSHA appreciates these amendments, our members are concerned that children with autism and other developmental disabilities are being denied insurance coverage for speech therapy, despite this law. Parents need to be informed that this law is in place to specifically protect their rights.
NJSHA encourages that even self-funded insurance plans – which are not subject to the state law – provide speech therapy benefits so children can receive the therapy they need to become effective communicators.
Past President of New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Beach Haven, NJ