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Mom Sues After Therapy Was Denied To Son With Autism

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Minnesota mom says she's suing two major insurance companies for not providing her son with the care he needs.

Tracy Reid says her 7-year-old son, Max, has autism, and that behavioral therapy allows him to stay in school.

"This is a service that I need to keep him in this environment," she said.

But recently, she says, both HealthPartners and Blue Cross Blue Shield told her they would not be providing that coverage.

When Max was diagnosed with autism, a doctor told Reid that her son needed behavioral therapy, which they began. But HealthPartners was her insurance provider at the time and they denied coverage, citing a contract exclusion. In the denial letter they recommended three other options. Reid says one of them was a doctor who had already suggested behavioral therapy.

"One of those providers is Park Nicollet Alexander Center. That is the exact place that referred me to get behavior therapy," Reid said.

After starting a new job, Reid switched to Blue Cross Blue Shield, which she said covered the therapy for Max. But a letter she recently received told her that will end, too. As of Jan. 1, Blue Cross won't cover therapy that is behavior-related, the letter said.

Reid has since bought a new health policy through the Department of Human Services. She says instead of insurance companies covering Max's needs, taxpayers are now paying for it.

"We as parents have a hard enough time," she said. "And now we have the two biggest HMO's in the state refusing to provide coverage that works for our children."

Blue Cross released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it does cover services related to autism including diagnosis, medication, physical and speech therapy. But the statement did not mention behavioral therapy. HealthPartners refused to comment while the lawsuit is in litigation.

Reid says that as a single mom it is her opinion that behavioral therapy didn't just change Max's life, it changed her life, too.

The lawsuit alleges discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with the Human Rights Act.

Reid says 31 other states already require coverage for this type of therapy.

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