by Marion Walsh, Esq.
On January 10th, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill which establishes a new state license for providers of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to individuals with autism. ABA represents the leading evidence-based therapy for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. ABA, usually a one-on-one treatment method, focuses on assessing the environmental influences on behavior, assessment-based intervention, and data-based decision making. The new law will help individuals and families find quality ABA providers who have met stringent academic and training requirements, while also ensuring state regulation and continuing oversight of these providers.
The new law creates a new state license for behavior analysts (with at least a master’s degree) and a new state certification for behavior analyst assistants (with at least a 4-year college degree), with a protected scope of practice. According to the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis there will be two different processes. The first process, which will be available from January 10th, 2014 to January 10th, 2016, allows an individual who is certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to become licensed or certified (assistants) if they fill out and satisfy the character and fitness requirement and pay the fee ($200 license; and $170 certification). Second, the regular licensure process begins on July 1, 2014 and is available for anyone who does not have BACB certification. However, if an individual obtains BACB certification after July 1, 2014, they can still apply through the shorter process which will be open until January 10th, 2016. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2014, except that individuals who are certified by the BACB will be allowed to apply immediately to the New York State Education Department for licensure or certification, provided they satisfactorily fulfill the character and fitness requirement and pay the required fee.
The new law represents an effort to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses paid by the families of those with autism. The law builds upon New York’s insurance reform legislation, passed in November 2012, which requires state-regulated health plans to cover ABA. The insurance reform legislation required that ABA practitioners obtain a state license in order to qualify for insurance reimbursement. Because New York has no ABA license, the requirement effectively blocked the ability of many families to use their new insurance coverage. The new law (S.4862) now supplements the insurance reform regulation by providing for the state licensing process.
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