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Expanding autism-related benefits heads to governor’s desk

By Ricky Campbell

The House on Monday approved a bill that would extend and expand benefits to people with autism and related conditions.

Rep. Roz Peterson

Sponsored by Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) and Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), HF919/ SF562* modifies a 2013 law that provided intensive treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Passed 131-0, the bill would extend the benefits, called Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI), to 21-year-olds and expands qualifying conditions.

After passing the Senate March 20 by a 66-0 vote, the bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton.

Peterson said the bill was a collaboration among stakeholders, providers and the state. It adds flexibility, Peterson said, “to cover new evidence-based therapies as we learn more about autism.”

The Department of Human Services states the program focuses on individualized treatment plans, coordinated care and training for parents and caregivers. Bolstering the benefits, supporters say, will provide better workplace opportunities and help with outreach – with no added cost to the state.

The bill also adds safeguards, like pre-benefit evaluations, monitoring treatment plans and evaluations for treatment goals, along with clarifying language to meet federal standards.

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