December 4, 2012 – Proposed emergency regulations from New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) will drastically limit the resources available to families in New York State seeking diagnosis and treatment for their children with autism.
The regulations, proposed on October 31, the eve of the autism insurance law’s enactment, would require service providers to be New York State licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, or social workers as well as board certified behavior analysts. These DFS regulations exclude hundreds of qualified individuals from providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services, thereby drastically limiting the resources available to New York families as opposed to expanding them as the law intended.
“The design and intent of the Autism Insurance law was to provide insurance coverage for ABA treatment by certified behavior analysts and there are about 700 in the state,” said Dr. Stephen R. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Summit Educational Resources. "This regulation would make only 43 professionals eligible to provide this service state-wide,” Dr. Anderson said.
“Many of these individuals may not have experience with individuals with autism and therefore the number of qualified providers may be even lower. This regulation effectively nullifies the insurance law, since essentially no one is qualified to provide ABA in New York,” Dr. Anderson explained. “The regulation will have a serious detrimental effect on families of children with autism by essentially eliminating their access to services protected under the law,” he added.
The autism insurance law covers diagnosis and ABA treatment for those with autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability that affects communication, reasoning, and social skills. ABA is an evidence-based approach that has been shown in research studies to be the most effective treatment for individuals with autism. “The approach breaks complex skills into small steps to improve skills and to address behavioral and medical concerns related to eating, feeding, sleeping, toileting and challenging behaviors,” explained Dr. Vicki Knapp, Chief Clinical Director of Summit and President of the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis.
Several other states have allowed Behavior Analysts to provide and/or supervise ABA services for persons with ASD under similar laws. “Currently, there are nearly 750 Board Certified Behavior Analysts in New York State,” Dr. Knapp said. “The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has high standards for certification (coursework, supervision, and a certification exam) and this credential is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA),” she added. “We are confident that our community will succeed in lobbying strongly enough to rectify this situation.”
As of October 2012, according to the New York State Education Department, there were 22,805 children between the ages of 4 and 21 that were identified with autism, a number that does not include preschoolers or adults with autism and has certainly increased as the incidence of autism has skyrocketed. The Centers for Disease Control reported in April 2012 that autism affects 1 in every 88 children, a significant increase over its previous report in 2009 that indicated that 1 in every 110 children were affected.
Media note: Summit CEO, Stephen R. Anderson, is available to answer media inquiries regarding the Autism Insurance Reform Law. Please call me to arrange.
Ellen Spangenthal, Director-Communications