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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Victory! Massachusetts Autism Omnibus Bill Passes

From Massachusetts Advocates for Children

July 31, 2104


Through MAC’s tireless advocacy, alongside its partners, the Massachusetts legislature has passed the Autism Omnibus Bill!

The Autism Omnibus Bill is a landmark bill addressing unmet needs of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), reflecting many of the priority recommendations of the Commonwealth’s Autism Commission and MAC’s Autism Center.

This bill reflects the state legislature’s commitment to address the needs of the growing numbers of people with ASD in the Commonwealth. MAC and other stakeholders dedicated an enormous amount of effort advocating for passage of the bill, and we are thrilled to see it moving onto the Governor’s desk for his signature.

The bill includes the following key provisions:

  • A requirement that MassHealth cover medically necessary treatments for children with ASD who are under 21 years old – including ABA therapies as well as dedicated and non-dedicated AAC devices;
  • Extension of Department of Developmental Services (DDS) eligibility to many persons with Autism, Prader Willi Syndrome and Smith-Magenis syndrome;
  • The creation of an Autism Endorsement for special education teachers to enable them to voluntarily gain in-depth knowledge about the complexities of educating students with ASD;
  • The creation of tax-free saving accounts (called “Achieving a Better Life Experience” or ABLE) to help families cover anticipated disability-related expenses for individuals with ASD and other physical and developmental disabilities;
  • Requiring DMH and DDS to develop and implement a plan to provide services to individuals who have both a mental illness and a developmental disabilities; and,
  • Establishing the Autism Commission as a permanent entity.

Read H.4047 - the Autism Omnibus Bill

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. Special thanks to lead sponsors Rep. Bradley and Sen. Flanagan, House Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray, House Ways and Mean Chair Dempsey, Senate Ways and Mean Chair Brewer, and the other legislators who provided essential support and leadership, and to Barbara L’Italien, of the ARC/AFAM.

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To learn more, please see MAC's fact sheet.

Read more about the advocacy of MAC’s Autism Center.

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