University of Massachusetts Medical School/Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center (MA LEND) Alumni and Other Local Notables Level the "Paying" Field

ARICA Bill Passage Mandates Private Insurance Coverage for Autism Services in Massachusetts

September 13, 2010

Ms. Amy Weinstock and MA Governor, Deval Patrick
Ms. Amy Weinstock and MA Governor, Deval Patrick

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 will go down as a landmark day for all Massachusetts residents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and their families.  Thanks to a unanimous vote by both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature followed by Governor Deval Patrick's historic signing of H.3809 (better known as "An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism," or ARICA), Massachusetts is now the 23rd state requiring private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of ASDs, beginning in January 2011. 

The University of Massachusetts Medical School/Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center LEND Program has a particularly special connection to this legislation; it is the brainchild of LEND alumna Amy K. Weinstock, MA who is the parent of a child with autism. Ms. Weinstock conceived of the bill in 2005 while completing her yearlong LEND capstone project that investigated national insurance policies and practices for ABA services for people with autism. She later became Chair of the Insurance Policy Committee for Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) where Ms. Weinstock would later enlist the expertise of two other LEND alumni, also parents of children with ASDs: Nan Leonard, JD, BCBA, EdS, MHA (2007) who used her legal skills to help draft the bill, and Maura Buckley, MPA (2008) who worked closely with local media to promote ARICA's importance to children and families.

Ms. Weinstock's tireless grassroots efforts were well timed; ARICA was actively embraced by the bill's two main legislative champions, MA State Representative Barbara A. L'Italien and MA State Senate Majority Leader Frederick E. Barry.  Ms. L'Italien is herself the parent of an adult child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Momentum continued as AFAM partnered with the national organization, Autism Speaks with the assistance of another local parent and advocate, Judith Ursitti, Regional Director of State Advocacy Relations who added Massachusetts' ARICA effort to the larger AutismVotes national push to enact autism insurance legislation in every state.

According to Ms. Weinstock, "Our bill is one of the most comprehensive of its kind; individuals with autism will have coverage for medically necessary treatment with no age caps or dollar limits. ARICA covers people with autism, because they are people with autism, whether they are 2 or 82. And the amount of treatment, just like chemotherapy and radiation for cancer patients, is based on medical necessity, not an arbitrary dollar cap."

This collaborative effort from a host of passionate and dedicated advocates, legislators and families will make an amazing difference for honoring the civil rights of people with autism in Massachusetts, and we sincerely applaud all involved for their efforts!

For more information, please visit: and