NATIONAL AUTISM LAW CENTER

Every day, children and adults with autism face pervasive discrimination preventing them from accessing the treatment and interventions that can allow them to live safe, productive, functional lives. Few families have the time or the financial means to both care for their loved ones and fight this systematic discrimination. Resources to assist these families are few, and there is a lack of national strategy to develop the law on behalf of those affected. While the autism community has made progress in passing laws that allow access to treatment for some, many laws remain limited in scope, are circumvented by funders, and are not properly complied with or enforced by state and federal agencies. In addition, a significant number of individuals with autism still have no recognized rights under the law to access treatment.

This is a precarious time for the future of autism treatment as the law, coverage mechanisms, and utilization policies continue to rapidly evolve. Without strong coordinated action in favor of those with autism, bad legal precedents and policies may be set, become entrenched, and spread across the country. A vigorous national law center is a key component in the fight to ensure access to life changing treatment.

The National Autism Law Center will work to enforce and expand the legal rights of those with autism, so that they will be able to access the treatment and interventions they deserve. The Law Center will serve as a resource to individuals with autism and their families across the country, and to the providers and attorneys who support them. The Center will:

  • Work with government agencies to secure favorable regulatory guidance and improve audit and enforcement efforts to address the unique challenges faced by those with autism and prevent improper barriers in the first place.
  • Be a national information clearinghouse to gather, analyze and disseminate data on insurer denials and practices for use by attorneys, legislatures and policymakers.
  • Support providers, parents and advocates with cutting edge case law and legal analyses.
  • Build national capacity by providing litigation support and training, and coordinating the efforts of public and private attorneys bringing autism litigation.
  • Serve as co-counsel in selected impact cases.

When litigation is necessary, the center will concentrate on cases with precedent setting potential across the country on issues such as:

  • Practices that deny or limit care for older children and adolescents.
  • Restrictions that violate state mandates and federal and state mental health parity protections such as discriminatory medical necessity criteria, age and dollar limitations, routine unsubstantiated denials of treatment plans, overly short authorization periods, restrictive diagnostic criteria, and limitations on medically necessary treatment settings.
  • Discrimination against children of single parents and working parents by imposing mandatory parental participation requirements that deny children access to treatment.
  • Denial of needed treatments and supports to adults to provide access to employment and independent living.

The National Autism Law Center is seeking individuals committed to helping us systematically fight discrimination in access to treatment for individuals with autism by providing significant initial financial support for the first two years of operations. This will allow for immediate impact and lay the groundwork for sustainable growth as funding matures to include grants, legal fees, and products. In its initial phase, the Center seeks commitments totaling $750,000 to be used for start-up personnel.

NATIONAL AUTISM LAW Center

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
─ Thomas Jefferson

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