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Autism Bill Signed In N.J.

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New Jersey health insurers would be required to provide diagnostic screening for autism and other developmental disabilities under legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Jon Corzine.

The measure also mandates that New Jersey health insurers also provide coverage for therapeutic services, including any medically-necessary occupational, physical and speech therapy associated with developmental disabilities.

The law requires insurers to provide up to $36,000 per year for medically necessary behavioral early intervention for all patients who are under 21 years of age with autism and with other developmental disabilities.

Of 15 states with this type of insurance legislation, New Jersey is the first to include other developmental disabilities along with autism, according to the governor’s office.

Autism is a particular problem in New Jersey, according to the governor’s office.

Center for Disease Control statistics show that nationwide, one in 150 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, Gov. Corzine said. But in New Jersey, the rate is about 1 in 94, the highest in the nation, the governor said in justifying the new mandate.