COLUMBUS — Ohio children with autism and their families now will have access to needed services thanks to policy changes Gov. John R. Kasich announced recently for state employee health insurance, health insurance sold in the private market, and health insurance sold through the upcoming federally managed health insurance exchange.
Ohio already provides access to autism-related services to approximately 40 percent of Ohio’s children through its Medicaid program.
The General Assembly has been debating legislation that would make autism services a mandated benefit in Ohio’s private health insurance market, and Kasich made his decision to expand the availability of services for children with autism only after close consultation with legislative leaders and members of both chambers.
Ohio will make autism services available to state employees and their 39,900 covered children after approval by the five state employee unions. Coverage details will be negotiated with the unions.
Additionally, autism services will be defined as part of the “essential health benefit” package that federal law requires in every state beginning in 2014. Ohio’s coverage levels will balance the call for a robust, meaningful benefit package with the reality of job-creators’ economic and financial pressures and their need to keep premium costs low.
Additionally, this action helps provide job-creators protection from the uncertainty of possible future federal interference in 2016 when all state health insurance coverage levels will be reviewed and possibly revised.
It is widely expected that states with no minimum coverage levels for autism or other habilitative services would be prime targets for federal intervention.