Governor Susana Martinez announced today that she has signed House Bill 22, expanding coverage under the Health Care Purchasing Act (HPCA) to include treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Any healthcare plan covered under the HCPA will be required to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The HCPA covers school employees, state and local employees, and certain retirees.
"Autism not only affects those individuals living with it, but it also has an impact on their families and loved ones," said Governor Martinez. "This bill will provide some measure of relief to autistic New Mexicans and their families by expanding many health insurance plans to include Autism Spectrum Disorder."
In 2009, the New Mexico Legislature passed a bill that mandated autism coverage for children in group healthcare plans. However, that law only applied to commercial, private insurance and included a massive loophole that left thousands of public employees -- including state employees, municipal employees, and public school teachers -- without much-needed autism coverage.
"Caring for a child with autism is an expensive challenge without the right health care coverage," said Shawna Childress, a teacher at East Mountain High School in Albuquerque. Shawna approached a fellow East Mountain teacher, Representative Jim Smith, about closing the loophole that denied autism coverage to public employees. "This law is a tremendous help and I'm grateful that Governor Martinez and Representative Smith responded to parents like me who are raising an autistic child."