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Families File Autism Suit Against Providence Health Plan

OPB | May 13, 2013 9:06 a.m. | Portland

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Two Multnomah County families whose children have autism have filed a class action lawsuit against Providence Health Plan.

The families say Providence is refusing to pay for ‘Applied Behavior Analysis.’ ABA involves a therapist working one-on-one with a child — to teach a range of skills — from reading to tooth brushing. It’s expensive because of the time involved. 

Lawyer Keith Dubanevich, says Providence denied the families’ claims, first saying ABA was experimental, then saying it was excluded from their policies.

“I’m pretty confident that a lot of parents just give up because they either don’t have the expertise or the money to hire a lawyer or the time to deal with it.”

Dubanevich says Oregon’s ‘Mental Health Parity Act’ requires Providence to cover mental and physical problems to the same degree.

Providence spokesman Gary Walker says most health insurance carriers in Oregon don’t cover ABA. And while Providence doesn’t discuss pending litigation he says, it is working with legislators, advocates and other health plans, to find common standards to cover ABA in the future.

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