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Presentation begins at 6 mins and 2 seconds. Advisor: Mona Sarfaty, MD, FAAFP, Thomas Jefferson University


Previously considered to be a rare disorder, autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has become one of the most prevalent developmental disabilities in the United States, affecting roughly 1 in every 110 children born today. Those affected require intensive treatment at an early age. These therapies are expensive. Lifetime behavioral therapy expenditures alone are estimated at $206,333 per person, much more than the average household can sustain. States have begun to intervene by passing legislation requiring mandated coverage. Pennsylvania became one of the first states to pass such difficult legislation. This project offers an analysis of the circumstances and subsequent events leading to the enactment of Pennsylvania’s Act 62, based on a literature review and first-hand accounts obtained from open-ended survey responses with legislators from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The literature review utilized studies and reports from state agencies, while the qualitative approach of the project employed a thirty item questionnaire addressing six major topics: 1) understanding the problem, 2) the impetus for action, 3) stakeholder influence, 4) main issues debated, 5) legislation details, and 6) future expectations. Content analysis of responses to the major topics elicited three major themes: 1) Awareness of the problem through personal experiences, complaints of constituents, and information provided by grassroots organizations; 2) Issues of concern, such as reimbursement for services by insurers; 3) Suitability of the legislation The passage of Act 62 proved to be a challenging process, involving multiple interest groups, and a host of different issues. Nevertheless, a compromise was reached. Further study will be needed to determine the long term outcome of the new state law.