Boyd Alumnus to Receive Autism Advocate Award

Wed, 01/20/2010

Boyd alumnus and Assemblyman James Ohrenschall ’09 will receive this year’s Autism Advocate Award from the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation at its first annual "Fashion for Autism Las Vegas" event on Jan. 22 at The Four Seasons Ballroom.

Photo of James Ohrenschall

During the summer of 2007, Ohrenschall was appointed by the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, Barbara E. Buckley, to serve on the Nevada State Autism Task Force. As a member of the task force, Ohrenschall learned firsthand about the heart-wrenching struggles that parents go through to try to get help for their children growing up with autism. He learned that not only were insurance companies in Nevada not covering the evidence-based therapies that have proven to be effective, in many cases they were specifically excluding coverage for therapy that could help children with autism.

Ohrenschall’s experiences on the Autism Task Force inspired him to introduce legislation to mandate medical coverage for autistic children in Nevada. He introduced Assembly Bill 162 on Feb. 12, 2009. After a struggle to get the bill passed by both the State Senate and the State Assembly, Ohrenschall was eventually able to build a bipartisan coalition in support of the measure. On May 29, 2009, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 162 into law.

Assembly Bill 162 mandates that medical insurance companies that do business in Nevada must cover evidence-based therapy for autistic children up to their 18th birthday or 22nd birthday if they are still finishing high school. With the passage of Assembly Bill 162, Nevada became the 11th state in the nation with comprehensive autism insurance reform legislation.

Ohrenschall, a native Nevadan, was born and raised in Las Vegas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the UNLV College of Business and his law degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law. He is finishing his second term in the Nevada Assembly representing Assembly District 12 in Clark County.