Autism Insurance Resource Center receives Flutie Foundation grant to help parents of children with autism access coverage for treatments

Jan 16, 2015
AIRC has been awarded a grant from the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.

Amy K. Weinstock, founding director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center, speaks at the Flutie Foundation event where the center received a grant to support its technical assistance program.

The Autism Insurance Resource Center at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center has been awarded its third grant from the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism Inc. to support its technical assistance program, which helps caregivers of children and adults on the autism spectrum access coverage for autism treatments.

“We are the only state that has a center of this kind,” said Amy K. Weinstock, founding director of the resource center and herself the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.  “It has made a tremendous difference in helping parents get access to coverage.”

The resource center’s grant award was one of several announced at the First Annual Flutie Foundation Partner Summit on Dec. 19 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Natick. Weinstock, a long-standing advocate for expanding insurance coverage for autism treatment, was also a speaker.

“What is appealing about AIRC is they focus on broad autism advocacy and also go out of their way to provide technical assistance to families,” said Lisa Borges, the foundation’s executive director. “They are able to reach and impact a large population here in Massachusetts.”

The resource center stood out among other applicants because of its widespread reach, strong collaboration, evaluation skills and anecdotal evidence of success that included comments from families who have been helped, Borges said. One family thanked the resource center for helping them acquire MassHealth insurance and premium assistance for their son, while another was grateful for the center’s efforts in fighting for children with autism.

The funding will be used to provide individual assistance to families who have questions or concerns about coverage for autism-related treatments. The resource center also received grant awards from the foundation in 2011 and 2013.

“Insurance is complex and confusing, and we help parents figure out how to get what they need,” Weinstock said.

Families may need help in a variety of ways, Weinstock said. Some need to understand what their insurance does and does not cover, and how to acquire secondary insurance policies, if necessary. Others need to find the right provider for a particular treatment, or advice on how to resolve problems.

The Autism Insurance Resource Center at the Shriver Center, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, was founded in March 2011 following the passage of a state law that requires private insurance cover medically necessary autism treatment.

In addition to assisting families and caregivers in accessing and using the right health insurance for the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum, the resource center provides assistance to providers, employers, and educators on issues related to medical insurance for autism treatment.

“The Flutie Foundation has an outstanding track record of providing critical support and help for families affected by autism. We have the highest respect for their mission, programs, and staff.  It is an honor to be selected as a grant recipient, and their support will enable us to help so many families,” Weinstock said.

© 2015 University of Massachusetts Medical School