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Parents of Autistic Children, Pushing for Autism Therapy Insurance Bill

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ALTOONA, Iowa -- When it comes to fighting for a child’s well - being, the battle has been non - stop for the Lust family.

“Children of state employees have had coverage for 5 years now and we would just like the same coverage,” says Kerry Lust as she sits and waits at The Homestead, an autism treatment center.

For two and half hours, five days a week, for the last three years; Kerry's son, Brandon receives applied behavior analysis or "ABA" therapy.

“We had seen what a great impact it was having on his behavior and on his life and on our lives as a family,” she says.

Brandon was diagnosed with autism at age four.

ABA therapy is believed to be the only research based treatment for autism but it's also expensive, costing families about a thousand dollars a week.

Lust says insurance companies repeatedly denied her son’s therapy and instead was given a Medicaid waiver for children with special needs but even that's short-lived. The waiver expires for children when they turn 9 - years -  old.

Brandon is 8.

A piece of legislation is moving through the statehouse that would require insurance companies to provide autism therapy coverage until the age of 21.

Major insurance companies like Wellmark are lobbying against it, saying it already covers several services related to autism.

"In addition, Iowa already has an innovative autism support program that assures coverage for those who cannot otherwise get coverage for ABA therapy," a spokesperson tells Channel 13.

Prior attempts to get the law changed have failed but the Lust family is remaining optimistic they won't have to put a pause on Brandon's progress.

Lust believes if autistic children get the therapy they need at a young age through their teen years, they will be less of a financial burden in their adult life.

“Brandon has a lot of growing and developing to do and Brandon has a lot of progress to made and we are really excited about where he can go and we don’t want anything to stop that."

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