DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A federal judge has ruled that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was wrong to deny coverage for certain autism treatment services.

The Detroit-based insurer rejected claims for applied behavior analysis, saying the treatment was investigative or experimental. Judge Stephen J. Murphy III ruled last week that the basis for denial was “arbitrary and capricious” and sent the claims back for reconsideration.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccines Saved Nearly 20 Million Lives In First Year, Study Says

The ruling could impact about 500 families who had to pay for coverage out-of-pocket since 2010. Lawyer Gerard Mantese, who represented parents of children with autism in the lawsuit, estimated payments could total $5 million.

“This ruling is great news for hundreds of families who are working hard to provide a great life for their children who have autism,” Mantese told

READ MORE: Michigan Ballot Initiative Aims To Protect Abortion Rights

Blue Cross could appeal the decision. Spokeswoman Helen Stojic said in a statement they “understand the concern and are very sympathetic to the challenges of families dealing with autism.”

MORE: Michigan Reveals Goals For State Autism Services

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE NEWS: AG Nessel Says Abortions Are Still Legal In Michigan