Autism Insurance Resource Center honors 2015 Champions of the autism community

May 22, 2015

The Autism Insurance Resource Center at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center has honored three individuals for their leadership, dedication and commitment to helping those in the autism community.

The awards were announced at the Autism Insurance Resource Center’s Annual Insurance Update and Celebration of Champions May 5 at UMass Medical School. The recipients are: Marilyn Augustyn, MD, director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center; Larry Cancro, senior vice president of the Boston Red Sox; and Erin Ennis, customer service and operations associate for the Massachusetts Health Connector.

The 2015 Champion awards exemplify leadership in helping the autism community.

“The recipients are different people who have done so much for our community I wanted to recognize them,” said Amy K. Weinstock, founding director of the resource center and the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum. “Every one of them was grateful to be honored and appreciated.”

Dr. Augustyn was recognized for her significant contributions and positive impact on the lives of children with autism and their families. Cancro was recognized for his extraordinary contributions and advocacy on behalf of individuals with autism. Ennis was honored for her outstanding dedication and commitment to facilitating access to insurance coverage for individuals with autism.

This is the third year of the Insurance Update event and the second year three individuals were honored with Champion awards.

“The event is held to bring the autism community together to talk about insurance issues,” Weinstock said, adding that a lot of important information is reviewed at the event.

Joyce A. Murphy, MPA, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, gave the opening remarks. Terri Farrell, project director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center, gave an update on the center’s work. Lisa Harris, the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, spoke about the resource center’s support for her family, the positive impact of insurance and the challenges she faced trying to access coverage. Derek Chaves, director of technology at INDEX, the Shriver Center’s Disability Informatics Resource, unveiled the resource center’s newly released Web-based insurance coverage determination tool, “Am I Covered.” Weinstock wrapped up the program with an update on MassHealth coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis.

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

The resource center assists families and caregivers in accessing and using the right health insurance to meet the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum and give assistance to providers, employers and educators on issues related to medical insurance for autism treatment.