FCSN // Newsletter // 2014 // Fall 2014 // The Autism Omnibus Bill
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The Autism Omnibus Bill

The Autism Omnibus Bill: What It Means for Your Child  and Their Healthcare

On August 6, 2014 Governor Deval Patrick signed the Autism Omnibus Bill. The bill attempts to address the unmet needs of people with Autism in Massachusetts.

Key parts of the bill include:

  • A requirement that MassHealth cover medically necessary treatments for children with ASD who are under 21 years old. They must cover ABA therapies as well as dedicated and non-dedicated AAC devices.
  • An extension of Department of Developmental Services (DDS) eligibility to many persons with Autism, Prader Willi Syndrome and Smith-Magenis syndrome. DDS will no longer solely rely on IQ test results. They will be required to use the federal definition of a “developmental disability.”
  • The creation of an Autism Endorsement for special education teachers to help them gain in-depth knowledge about the complexities of educating students with ASD
  • The creation of tax-free saving accounts (called “Achieving a Better Life Experience” or ABLE) to help families cover disability-related expenses for individuals with ASD and other physical and developmental disabilities
  • A requirement that the Departments of Mental Health and Developmental Services develop and implement a plan to provide services for individuals with both a mental illness and a developmental disability
  • The establishment of the Autism Commission as a permanent entity.

What does this mean for our Mass Family Voices Community? The biggest victory is the requirement that MassHealth cover medically necessary ABA services. Before this bill, MassHealth did not cover ABA at all. It is important to note that this piece of the bill may not actually go into effect with the rest of the bill on November 3, 2014. It depends on the availability of federal funds. We are waiting to see if federal funds are available to the state for this provision.

The F2F Health Information Center will inform the community as more information comes out related to MassHealth ABA coverage.

The Mass Family Voices F2F HIC helps families make informed choices about care for children and youth with special healthcare needs. We do this by providing a listserv, which is a place for families to connect and share resources. Please join our listserv by sending an email to massfamilyvoices-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You can also call us at 1-800-331-0688 ext. 301 with any questions.