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December 12, 2008

Governor Blagojevich Signs "Brianna's Law"
New law ensures healthcare coverage for families of children with autism

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 934 into law, providing insurance coverage to parents of children with autism. The new law, also known as "Brianna's Law" and which received overwhelming support from the Illinois General Assembly, will provide coverage for all individuals under age 21 for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) up to $36,000 per year. The new law is named for Brianna DiCianni, who was diagnosed with autism in 2006 and was denied coverage by her family's health insurance company.

“Families of children with autism have a right to access the treatment their children need and today that has finally become a reality in Illinois,” said Governor Blagojevich. “I have continued to fight for this cause and I am pleased to sign this bill into law today.”

Approximately 26,000 children in Illinois have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Before the passage of this law, only those in large group insurance policies (50 or more beneficiaries) were able to receive coverage for children with autism and even at that, only inpatient and outpatient mental health services were covered.

In many cases, families of children with autism are forced to cover treatment costs with personal funds, at costs that can range from $2,000 to $4,000 out-of-pocket per month. The Autism Society of America (ASA) estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million.

The underlying cause of autism is not known. However, the medical community agrees that early intervention can significantly help affected children when it comes to basic communication and social skills. This is critical, as it can help these children live independent lives and can reduce the need for intensive supports in subsequent years. Research shows that children who do not receive the appropriate intervention in time have a less than two percent chance of leading a normal life.


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