Judiciary Committee Adopts Autism Bill

On Feb. 2 the House Judiciary Committee took up a bill that would “clean up” some issues with last year’s bill related to insurance coverage for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The bill, House Bill 4260, would clear up some issues with a past legislative bill, House Bill 2693. House Bill 2693 had required that insurance companies extend coverage for children with autism, but insurance companies took issue with the bill. Some added in their own specifications for therapists giving treatment, hereby shrinking the pool of therapists available and reducing the ability of children to get the care they need.

The bill last year covered two tiers, offering birth to 12 coverage of $30,000 and adolescent to 18 coverage of $24,000. More care was allotted to the younger children as treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, is most effective for children when they are young.

Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha and vice-chairman of the committee, has an autistic son that will “never be self-sufficient.” He urges action on HB 4260 because time is running out for many children who need the care. “There’s not a single child who’s received a single benefit from what we’ve done last year,” he said. “It’s too late for my son, but there are other people’s sons that we can still help. There are other people’s sons that we can still make a difference in. While these children are burdened, we’re fiddling.”

The House Judiciary Committee adopted the bill unanimously, and it will go to the Finance Committee before being reported to the full House.

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