Pennsylvania Takes Bold Steps Toward Mental Health Parity for Autism Coverage
November 20, 2023
In a significant move, the Shapiro Administration in Pennsylvania has mandated health insurers to provide coverage for autism benefits starting January 1, 2024, aligning with mental health parity laws. Mental health parity means that insurance plans should provide fair coverage and financial support for mental health and substance use disorder services. Governor Josh Shapiro announced these changes during a press conference at Drexel University. He emphasized the importance of recognizing autism services as mental health services. Dr. Diana Robins, Director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, also spoke at the press conference, mentioning, “This new ruling acknowledges that insurance plans often limit access to mental health benefits, which goes against the Mental Health Parity Act. It builds on the progress made by Act 62 and sets the stage for better long-term support for autistic Pennsylvanians.”
Health insurers must adjust their policy language and claims processes to adhere to mental health parity provisions. The move ensures that Pennsylvanians with autism will not face discriminatory practices, such as higher copays or deductibles, fewer covered service visits, or annual limits. Both state and federal parity laws will mandate these protections. The announcement received praise from Representative Jessica Benham, who commended the administration for prioritizing a crucial change toward greater access to care for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Dr. Robins also acknowledged the work of the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative – known as ASERT – Eastern Region team, based at Drexel’s Autism Institute. ASERT brings together universities and state government to create practical research projects and community-focused efforts to support the autistic community. ASERT has a diverse array of initiatives, including a statewide resource center, many educational trainings, and justice system initiatives.
To read more about the press conference visit Governor Josh Shapiro’s website. To view the press conference please visit the live stream on Governor Josh Shapiro’s X (formerly Twitter) account.