November 09, 2011

Missouri DIFP wins award from national autism advocacy group

State recognized for enforcement of new autism insurance law

Jefferson City, Mo. - The nation's largest advocacy group for autism has rewarded the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration for its implementation of the state's new autism insurance law. The sixth annual Autism Law Summit was sponsored by Autism Speaks, which presented the award to the department for exceptional efforts on behalf of individuals with autism.

In 2010, Gov. Jay Nixon signed the law that requires health insurance companies to cover applied behavior analysis therapy, the most effective known treatment for children with autism. Under Gov. Nixon's leadership, DIFP has continued to work with insurers, treatment providers, parents and other stakeholders to ensure the new law serves its intended purposes.

Before the law took effect on Jan. 1, DIFP published a comprehensive guide to the new law on its website, which includes an FAQ and specific information for parents and health care providers as they file insurance claims for applied behavior analysis therapy.

"Their dedication to education of the autism community and successful implementation of the Missouri autism insurance reform law is extraordinary," said Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. "The department's website serves as a model for other state departments of insurance to emulate. Autism Speaks is grateful for their leadership in this area."

The new law also created DIFP's Behavior Analyst Advisory Board, which licenses autism treatment providers. The board now has 120 professionals licensed in Missouri.

DIFP is hosting an Autism Provider Summit on Dec. 2 in Jefferson City. The one-day training program will educate autism treatment providers on billing for insurance claims, navigating the insurance world and getting their staffs properly licensed and credentialed.

Consumers and health care providers with questions about the new autism insurance law can contact the department's Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit

Photo: Missouri DIFP team members Melissa Palmer, left, and Angela Nelson, right, accept the award from Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs.