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Banner Sued For Denying Autism Treatment Coverage

An employee of Banner Health is suing the hospital system for refusing to cover a form of treatment for autism.

The class-action lawsuit was filed earlier this month in federal court.

Micah Etter, a resident at Banner’s hospital in Tucson, sought out what’s known as Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy for his child. It’s widely accepted among health-care professionals as an approach to treat autism-related spectrum disorder, according to the CDC. 

But even after going through the appeals process, Banner still refused to cover the treatment, calling it “experimental.”

“This particular intervention for autism has long been respected as one of the mainstream approaches to the treatment, and so it’s factually incorrect to make the determination that it’s experimental," Anne Ronan with the Center for Law in the Public Interest, which is representing the plaintiffs, told KJZZ.

Ronan said Banner's denial of coverage violates federal law that ensures equal coverage for mental-health conditions. Her clients want the exclusion to be eliminated.

Banner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.