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Florida Autism Mandate

Florida’s Autism Insurance Benefits Mandate: Who Will Benefit, Who Will Not, and Why? Introduction

(Originally Published July 7, 2008)

On May 2, 2008, the Florida House and Senate enacted Senate Bill 2654 entitled “Relating to Children with Disabilities.”  Governor Crist signed the legislation on May 20, 2008.  While the legislation became law on July 1, 2008, it includes delayed effective dates for various components.  We refer to this legislation as the Florida autism legislation, although the scope of developmental disabilities covered by some components is broader.

There are three key components of the Florida autism legislation:

  • Mandate: an insurance mandate that covers children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome.
  • Compact: a compact among health benefits providers that relates to insurance and access to services for individuals with developmental disabilities (including autism spectrum disorders).
  • Medicaid waiver: a proposed supplemental Medicaid waiver to provide treatment to children age five or younger who have diagnosed developmental disabilities (including autism spectrum disorders).

In the following chapters, in a Q&A format, you will find some basic information about the Florida autism legislation that we hope will help you answer any questions you may have about the legislation:

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: The Florida Mandate: How will the legislation help Floridians? Who will it help? When? Could the Florida legislature have done more? What can I do if the legislation does not help as I expected?
  • Chapter 2: Scope of the Mandate – Health Plans: Which health plans must comply?  When?
  • Chapter 3: Scope of the Mandate – Insurance Coverage: What services will be covered?
  • Chapter 4: Mandate Exemptions: Which health plans are exempt?
  • Chapter 5: Proposed Developmental Disabilities Compact: Who will it help? When?
  • Chapter 6: Self-Insured Plan Exemption: What is a self-insured plan? Why self‑insure?  Why is the Florida legislature unable to regulate self-insured plans?  How does that affect me?
  • Chapter 7: Identifying Exempt Self-Insured Plans: Should I ask my employer?  How can I find out on my own?
  • Chapter 8: Proposed Supplemental Medicaid Waiver for Developmental Disabilities:
    • How will the Medicaid waiver help Floridians? Who will it help? When?
  • Chapter 9: Evaluation: Could the legislature have done more? What else did they consider?
  • Chapter 10: Conclusion – What Next?: What do our legislators need to do next?  What can I do to encourage change that will help children with autism spectrum disorders?

We hope that you will make the time to read each chapter.  We know how difficult it can be as a parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder and as a family member.  On most days, it can be overwhelming just meeting the basic needs of your families.  But, if each of us does not take the time to understand the limitations of autism insurance benefits mandates in Florida, and in every other state, and to demand that more be done, children in the United States with autism spectrum disorders are unlikely to get the health care they need to live meaningful, happy lives and to have a chance to become contributing members of society.  If the parents, families, friends, and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders coordinate their efforts, they can match the efforts of lobbyists who will oppose such change.

If you have questions, please comment in the Behavioral Lifeboat blog.

© 2008, 2011 Richard W. Probert

About Behavioral Lifeboat

Behavioral Lifeboat is a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to make evidenced-based behavioral therapy accessible to all by increasing awareness, helping to make comprehensive insurance benefits affordable and meaningful, helping schools provide more effective behavioral therapy programs, and providing grants to make such therapy affordable when other solutions are not available.


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