What People Are Saying About the Shapiro Administration’s Action to Remove Barriers to Care and Expand Access to Services for Pennsylvanians with Autism

“A moment of real leadership by our Governor.”


“When we work together, we can help people with Autism live the best version of their lives.”

Harrisburg, PA – This week, Governor Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner Michael Humphreys announced that starting on January 1, 2024, the Shapiro Administration will require all commercial insurers to meet their obligations under Pennsylvania law to provide coverage for autism benefits in a manner that complies with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) and Pennsylvania’s mental health parity requirements.

The Shapiro Administration is working to make mental health parity a true reality in Pennsylvania – and part of making this a reality includes requiring that commercial insurers comply with all mental health parity laws to cover autism services fairly and consistently. With this action, the Shapiro Administration will require those insurers to fully comply with parity requirements in administering autism coverage, which means recognizing that autism services are mental health benefits.

See what people are saying about the Shapiro Administration’s work to make mental health parity a reality in Pennsylvania:

Commissioner Humphreys: “The Pennsylvania Insurance Department aims to make mental health parity a reality in Pennsylvania. And with Governor Shapiro’s leadership, we are taking another step towards that goal. For the past four to five years, PID has been implementing rigorous efforts to inspect, examine, and investigate potential mental health parity violations. So today, we are making it clear that we expect insurers to fully comply with parity regulations in administering autism coverage and define all autism services as mental health benefits. We want the autism community to know that PID is here to help.”

Rep. Jessica Benham: “As an autistic woman, serving in elected office is certainly not easy. There seem to be more unwritten social rules and norms in this field than many, many others. But it is my absolute honor to not only be the first openly artistic state legislator in Pennsylvania, but also to represent my community back home gorgeous 36th district in Allegheny County, and I know that so many other autistic people and LGBTQ+ people and young people working class kids, women, see themselves reflected in the work that I do. I relish the opportunity to uplift the voices of other disabled people and to ensure that our perspectives are heard. Today, we’re here to celebrate a significant positive change to health insurance coverage for autistic people. I am grateful to Governor Shapiro and his Administration for prioritizing this change. I know that autistic individuals of all ages will benefit from greater access to care – and while there is still more to do to ensure access to care for individuals with developmental disabilities, this is a step in the right direction.”

Rep. Jamie Flick: “My background for the last thirty-some years has been developing software. I have a bit of a different background. Jessica and I are sort of opposite –opposite parties, opposite gender, opposite that she’s urban and I’m rural, but what connects us is a mental health, and today, certainly autism. But my background with software companies has been developing for roughly 60 of the 67 counties mental health software, drug and alcohol software, and intellectual disability. I noticed some of the technical changes that were needed and I noticed some reporting changes up the ladder to the state that were needed, and that’s a big part of the reason I ran. I also have a child that was diagnosed autistic, so that is a small part, but I’m here not just for my child, but for all Pennsylvania’s everybody needed third district and beyond.”

Drexel University President John Fry: “I was listening to Governor Shapiro’s remarks and sort of thinking of my sister, Laurie, her husband Tim, and their son Jack who is 23 and is on the spectrum. Governor, when you were talking about the moms and the dads and the constant pressure and frustration to get support that they deserve – it just rang so clearly. I just want to hold this up as a moment of real leadership by our Governor – not just smart leadership and smart legislation, but also incredible compassion and humanity because those words really rang through. A little more than a decade ago, our university established the AJ Drexel Autism Institute as the nation’s first center to focus on public health research and autism. Our goal then was to deliver tangible benefits for people with autism and their families. First through innovative multidisciplinary research, also through community-based initiatives and collaborations with universities and hospitals and autism service providers to increase access to critical resources and quality services. As proud members of the ASERT collaborative, we have been heavily involved in major projects, including the statewide resource center, professional training, and justice system related initiatives to help individuals, families and practitioners navigate the unnecessarily complex health care insurance and eligibility landscape. Governor Shapiro – the steps you are taking today to ensure that health insurance companies fully comply with the Mental Health Parity Act is a giant step towards eliminating those barriers once and for all.”

Dr. Diana Robins, Director and Professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute: “Today, we are all here together to celebrate a significant milestone in Pennsylvania mental health parity for autistic individuals. Mental health parity means that insurance plans should provide fair coverage and financial support for mental health and substance use disorder services, including autism services. I would like to thank Governor Shapiro and his Administration – the Department of Human Services and the Insurance Department – for their continued support and action for Pennsylvanians with Autism and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.”

Ryan Hammond, Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Foundation: “The Eagles Autism Foundation is proud to support the work of Governor Shapiro and key stakeholders whose efforts will result in much needed access to services for individuals diagnosed with autism. We know intervention and support is critical in changing the trajectory and outcomes in a person’s life and we believe through this policy, families’ needs will be better served, and lives will be changed as a result. We recognize it takes all of us to advance our collective mission of helping people live their best life and today is a wonderful example that we can continue to build upon in the future.”

Michael Alos: “My name is Michael Alos, and I received my autism diagnosis as an adult three days after my 50th birthday. While I’m happy with who I am and the life I have today, I experienced unnecessary struggles and hardships that I might not have experienced if I had been diagnosed in childhood and if treatment options were different in Pennsylvania. The Shapiro Administration knows that Pennsylvanians with autism need and deserve better care and support to live healthy lives – and today’s action will make a difference. And what Governor Shapiro and Commissioner Humphreys – and the partners here today – are showing, is that when we work together, we can help people with Autism live the best version of their lives. I want to thank Governor Shapiro and his administration for their continued work to ensure that health insurers provide autism services to every person with autism in Pennsylvania.”

See what Pennsylvanians are reading about the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to expand benefits for Pennsylvanians with autism: 

WPVI: Governor Josh Shapiro announces support, expanded benefits for Pennsylvanians with autism

WTAE: Expanded benefits for autism

WJET/WFXP: Shapiro Administration requiring insurers change coverage policies for autism-related services in 2024

WDIY: Gov. Shapiro’s New Autism Coverage Requirement for Insurers

WHTM: Expanding care benefits

WFMZ: Shapiro Admin. requiring health insurers to provide coverage for autism benefits in 2024

WTXF: Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro directing insurers to expand autism care


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