Public Policy Update

June 2, 2010

Jane S. Howard, PhD, BCBA-D, Chair, CalABA Public Policy Committee

Senate Bill 1282, sponsored earlier this year by Darrell Steinberg, Senate pro Tem, would recognize practitioners of applied behavior analysis in California's Business & Professions Code. The bill is still going through the amendment process but a "bare bones" version passed out of the Senate (23-12) that essentially reflects the current status of certification in applied behavior analysis (i.e., holding a certificate issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board [BACB]).

Other professional groups expressed concerns about SB 1282 during a May 11, 2010 meeting at the State Capitol which was also attended by CalABA Public Policy Chair (Jane Howard, PhD), the CalABA lobbyist (Jim Gross), and the CEO of the BACB (Jerry Shook, PhD). The BACB and CalABA have been working closely together to ensure that any legislation passed will fully protect consumers, practitioners, and the field of applied behavior analysis. If solutions can be resolved in the Assembly, the pro Tem will likely send SB 1282 back to the Senate Business & Professions Committee for a complete policy hearing. Stay tuned.

Insurance coverage for autism treatment. Darrell Steinberg, Senate pro Tem, has also convened a hearing in Sacramento on June 10, 2010 to review insurance coverage of services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Although California does not currently have a law mandating coverage of behavior analytic treatment of autism, 20 states have passed insurance reform laws which require such treatment to be reimbursed by insurance. Many of the states with mandated coverage laws (e.g., New Hampshire, Louisiana, etc.) specifically recognize BCBAs as the appropriate professionals to direct and supervise these treatment programs (see www.autismvotes.org). CalABA will be working with its membership to make sure that parents, funding agencies, and policy makers are informed about how the BCBA and BCaBA credentials help protect consumers and ensure high quality behavior analytic intervention (see bacb.com).

State association autonomy. CalABA, Connecticut ABA (CTABA), and Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) held a joint Town Hall meeting at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas on Friday, May 28, 2010. This Town Hall was just prior to the main ABAI Conference and was well attended by leaders of other state associations, special interest groups, and other professional organizations, including ABAI Executive Council and its Practice Board. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss recent problems caused by a failure to recognize the autonomy of state associations such as CalABA in legislative matters. After a formal presentation by CalABA, CTABA, and BABAT, ABAI President, Ray Miltenberger, Ph.D., acknowledged past missteps by the ABAI's Executive Council and Practice Board and vowed that similar mistakes would not occur in the future. Attendees expressed their interest in this issue and appreciation for ABAI's change in position. Surveys were collected on this and related concerns and the resulting data are posted here on the CalABA website. Similar Town Halls are scheduled for the BABAT '10, CTABA '11, CalABA '11, and ABAI '11 conferences to followup and continue to address these issues.