House Bill 1257 may clarify autism therapy for insurance - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

House Bill 1257 may clarify autism therapy for insurance coverage

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The Affordable Care Act made access to health insurance a hotly debated topic.

But what if you already had insurance and your provider decided to just drop part of your coverage?

That's exactly what's already happened to many families across South Dakota.

Some insurance companies recently stopped paying for autism therapy.

There's a bill being talked about in the House Health and Human Services committee which could offer some relief.

It would clarify insurance coverage for treating autism spectrum disorders. Some parents took their fight straight to the state capitol to have their voices heard.

Five-year-old Kierra's treatment for autism was covered by insurance until her mom, Robyn Stemper, received a letter.

"It was heartbreaking, it was. since Kierra started these therapies, she has come so far, and to hear that this was going to be taken from us, it was heart breaking, Stemper said.

Some parents shared that experience with state leaders to gain support for a bill, HB 1257,  which would guarantee therapy coverage for their children.

Parent Crystal Reuter said "they listened to us, they let us speak our peace about our children and the struggles we go through on a daily basis and it just went really, really well."

Kierra looks like she's having fun but these games are part of her treatment. It's called 'Applied Behavior Analysis' or ABA therapy.

Behavior Care Specialists Dr. Tracy Stephens said "it can take a child who isn't speaking to someone who can talk in complete sentences, and play and learn in a typical environment in a very short period of time. "

"Just the other day, without prompts she was able to say 'bye mom, love you' and she's never said that before," Stemper said.

They may not have insurance for their kids therapy but they still have hope.

"I didn't know, when we first started this journey if she would even live outside the home or do those things, but now I have high hopes that she'll live on her own, she'll get married and maybe someday have kids," Reuter said.

"It's been a struggle. It has. It has been a struggle. We've been taking it a day at a time and hoping that this bill is kind of our last, one of our last hopes, and we're hoping it really can help us," Stemper said.

The House Health and Human Services committee may take further action on hearing HB 1257, Tuesday morning.

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