State employees can receive autism benefits

May 1, 2013

Portia Williams

PDT Staff Writer

Governor John Kasich is fulfilling his pledge to make autism benefits available to State of Ohio employees. Beginning July 1, 2013, State of Ohio employees and their families with autism will be able to receive treatment as part of their employee health insurance benefits.

The announcement, which was made Tuesday, is a result of Kasich’s pledge to make autism benefits available to State of Ohio employees and negotiations recently concluded with state employees’ unions to revise the contractually-negotiated employee health plan.

According to the Communication Department of Kasich, the language utilized in the contract was solidified by Ohio Department of Administrative Services Director Bob Blair, in cooperation with Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) Co-chairs Kelly L. Phillips and Michael J. D’Arcy.

Blair said he was glad about the improvements to give families more access to needed resources.

“For families that have autism in their lives, it can be a tough path. If they can get help, it’s expensive, and that cost puts additional strains on relationships and family life. We can do better and I’m proud that we are doing better with this agreement to provide access to this important care,” Blair said.

Michael Bell, the current President of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, said he is thrilled about the new benefits.

“I am very ecstatic about this. I believe this will help relieve a huge burden on these state worker parents,” Bell said. “Autism currently affects one in 50 school age children.”

Bell also said the new law will play a vital role in early intervention of autism.

“This law will help with early intervention of autism and allow these children to receive the services that they are in need of and also, at the same time, it will help relieve the financial strains on the family. I know personally, families that this law will affect in a positive manner,” Bell said.

He said The Autism Project of Southern Ohio is grateful to Ohio legislators and Kasich for following through on their pledge to make Autism Healthcare Benefits available.

Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter @ PortiaWillPDT.