As autism advocates press for laws requiring that private health insurers cover behavior therapy, the question of who should license therapy providers is emerging as key.

The issue is coming to the forefront in Virginia where lawmakers recently approved legislation requiring insurance coverage for applied behavior analysis, or ABA, therapy starting in 2012.

But excited parents were soon dismayed to learn that a last-minute addition to the bill requires providers of the therapy to be licensed by the state. It could take as long as two years for such a licensing system to be established and families say they are concerned that they won’t be able to benefit from the new law in the meantime.

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The licensure requirement brings a twist to efforts to enhance insurance coverage of autism treatments. Traditionally, advocates say most states have relied on the national certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board to ensure that therapists are qualified, reports The Virginian-Pilot. To read more click here.

Nonetheless, Virginia is not the only state grappling with who should license ABA therapists. California regulators recently reached agreements with two private insurance companies to expand ABA therapy. But the deals hinge on therapy being provided by state licensed providers even though the state administers no such licenses.

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