Regence takes fight over autism therapy to state’s top court

Marcin Pawinski The Washington Supreme Court will decide whether to order Regence BlueShield, the only major provider in Washington that does not cover key autism therapies, to begin coverage.

By Atia Musazay | Puget Sound Business Journal

Every major health insurer in Washington now covers key therapies for autistic children with the striking exception of Regence BlueShield.

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday from both sides of O.S.T. v. Regence BlueShield. The court will decide whether to uphold a lower court ruling ordering Regence to provide coverage for speech and occupational therapy.

A decision is not expected to be made for several months.

Last month, Premera Blue Cross agreed to begin covering neurodevelopmental therapy for autism after settling a lawsuit brought by five people with autism and their families. Regence is now the sole major insurer in the state that is refusing to cover the cost of certain autism treatments.

The families represented in the case argue for reimbursement of treatments prescribed to autistic children, including speech, occupational and physical therapy.  Proponents also argue for the inclusion of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, used to teach skills and behaviors to children with autism, starting at a young age, with the individualized help of a behavior analyst.  Continue reading

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