At approximately 9:30 am on Friday, May 29, Governor Jim Gibbons signed into law AB 162, the Autism Insurance Reform Bill. It is a great day for all our families living with autism in the state of Nevada. 

ACON sends a big thank you to all of the Legislators and the Governor for making this happen and for believing in our cause and caring for our children. And a very special thank you to Assemblyman James Ohrenschall for standing with us all the way and for having the guts to introduce this Bill when 6 months ago we were told: “it has no chance”!!! A huge thank you to the incredible people at Autism Speaks! We really couldn’t have done this without them. Their expertise, testimony, and incredible support through it all made this day possible. And to your parents and families…. THANK YOU!!! 

AB162 Summary of Nevada Autism Insurance Reform Bill:

Assembly Bill 162 – Sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (D-12)Co-sponsors: Assembly – Buckley, Leslie, Woodbury, Conklin, Aizley, Anderson, Arberry, Atkinson, Bobzien, Carpenter, Christensen, Clarborn, Denis, Dondero Loop, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hardy, Hogan, Horne, Kihuen, Kirkpatrick, Hardy, Hogan, Mastroluca, McClain, Mortenson, Munford, Oceguera, Parnell, Pierce, Segerblom, Smith and Stewart. Senators: Horsford, Schneider, Lee, Wiener, Townsend, Amodei, Breeden, Care, Carlton, Coffin, Copening, Nolan, Parks, Rhoads and Woodhouse.·     

Requires private health insurance companies to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.· Coverage of treatments will be provided when prescribed for an individual diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder by a licensed physician or a licensed psychologist who determines the care to be medically necessary.· Coverage will be provided to individuals under the age of 18, or through the age of 21 if the individual is enrolled in high school.· Coverage under this bill is subject to a maximum benefit of $36,000 annually for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.·The bill includes coverage of the following treatments when written into a treatment plan: Habilitative or rehabilitative care, Prescription drugs, Psychiatric care, Psychological care, Therapeutic care (Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy), and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and behavioral therapies.· The bill defines “behavioral therapy” as “any interactive therapy derived from evidence-based research, including, without limitation, discrete trial training, early intensive behavioral intervention, intensive intervention programs, pivotal response training and verbal behavior” 

  • The bill applies only to small and large group health plans governed by state law. Individual plans will have to offer an optional rider for autism coverage. 

 April 21, 2009: AB 162 was passed by the Assembly in a vote of 39 to 2! The bill headed to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Assemblymen voting against were Ed Goedhart and Don Gustavson. 

Friday, May 1, 2009: AB 162 was heard in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Amendments were recommended by the Licensing Board of Psychologist, which will be combined with some necessary technical changes. The bill will go into a work session of the Senate Commerce and Labor the week of May 11, 2009. When it passes out of this committee, it will go to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill needs a two-thirds vote to pass, which means we need 14 of the 21 Senators to vote YES.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009: The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed AB 162. It now moves to the full Senate for discussion.   

To read the bill and view its complete history go to:  

Friday, May 22, 2009: The Senate passed the bill unanimously with an amendment to include state workers and teachers.

AB359 Summary of Bill:

Assembly Bill 359 – Sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa WoodburyCo-sponsors: Hardy , Gansert , Ohrenschall , Aizley , Atkinson , Bobzien , Christensen , Claborn , Denis , Dondero Loop , Goedhart , Goicoechea , Hambrick , Hogan , Kihuen , Kirkpatrick , Manendo , Munford , Oceguera , Pierce , Settelmeyer , Spiegel , Stewart , Breeden , Schneider , Woodhouse ·     

The bill requires all children being evaluated at Nevada Early Intervention or its community partners for services be screened for Autism according to the American Pediatrics Association recommendations.·     

The bill requires Nevada Early Intervention to notify parents immediately if their child is found to be at risk of autism and refer child for a diagnosis and treatment. ·     

The bill requires the staff, who serve children with Autism within the Nevada Early Intervention or its contractors to provide parents with accurate information on autism and evidence-based treatments.·     

The bills lays out a foundation of skills paraprofessionals should acquire to work with students with autism.·     

The bill requires school district staff to refer to the 2008 Autism Task Force document when designing programs for students with autism. 

AB 359 should go to the floor of the Assembly for a vote the week of May 11, 2009 and than on to the Senate Health and Education committee for a hearing. The bill had no opposition.  

AB222 and SB171 Summary of Bills:·

The bill continued the funding for the self-directed autism programs serving 121 children. The funding was not put into the Governor’s budget. Which would cause the program to sunset in June, 2009. ·     

The original bill only asked for $2 million; advocates testified $3.2 million was needed to serve the children currently on the program, and Legislators listened.·       

Thanks to the support of the Legislative Leadership, the Joint Finance Committee of Assembly and the Senate voted to support this as an add back and the needed $3.2 million was put back into the budget. 

Senate Hearing on SB171 Monday, March 23rdThe Senate will hear SB171 on Monday, March 23rd. This bill will continue the funding for the Autism Self-directed Program. It is the same as AB222 but on the Senate side. This is the first time the Senators will hear our plea to continue the funding for the Autism Self-directed Program. This is the first time the Senators will see us stand together as one voice. The hearing will take place at 8 a.m. in room 2134 of the legislature in Carson City. There will also be a video conference from the Grant Sawyer State Office Building at 555 East Washington Avenue in Las Vegas. 


There are currently 121 children, ages 18 months to 19 years olds, receiving funding to help pay for the evidence-based treatment with another 219 on the waiting list needing to start treatment.

This funding was not put in the Governor’s budget and will end June 30, 2009 if AB222 does not pass and allocate more funding to this critically necessary program.

Please! we need to pack the room to show how important this program is and that it needs to be a permanent program with case growth, so more children can get funding. Wear RED if you have it!

Press Conference, March 9, 1p.m. AB 162 will be presented to our State Assembly on Monday, March 9, at 1:30 pm. The Bill will be aired live via teleconference in the south at the Grant Sawyer Building, 555 W. Washington Las Vegas. Autism Coalition of Nevada (ACON), numerous advocacy organizations, and thousands of parents are paying close attention to AB 162. A PRESS CONFERENCE will be held shortly before on Monday 9, at 1:00pm, at the Grant Sawyer Building 555 W. Washington Las Vegas. Several parents and professionals with discuss the importance and impact AB 162 will have. Your attendance will send a strong message to the legislature. We must show that there is power in numbers. Please bring signs, children, friends, and your neighbors.Las Vegas Press Conference: 1:00pm Grant Sawyer Building. 555 W. Washington Las Vegas 

The future of our state is at a critical point and it is more important for us to let the decision-makers know where the people stand. 


Assemblyman James Ohrenschall introduced the Bill to stop discrimination by insurance companies, for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Bill is supported heavily by Assembly and Senate members, with 49 of the 63 Legislatures signing on as cosponsors! The Bill will now move to the Committee on Commerce and Labor. A hearing date has not been set yet.

The Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders, and the international advocacy organization, Autism Speaks, will be spearheading the efforts of the local statewide advocacy groups, to ensure passage of this Bill. The work is now really beginning! Please be available, if possible, if called upon to lend your professional expertise, parenting needs, and support for possible future testimony before Legislative Committees about the importance of this Bill. Much more to come !!

Originally posted on ACONV

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