Thursday, January 20, 2011

Virginia Autism Project pushes for insurance reform

VAP taking two bills to the State Senate

January 17, 2011|By Bob Grebe | Reporter

The Virginia Autism Project is hoping the General Assembly will take up Autism insurance reform.

The VAP website lists two bills the group is supporting this year. SB 1061 - Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder; relating to the state employee health benefit plan. This bill only covers state employees. SB 1062 - Relating to health insurance coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder. This bill excludes state employees.

According to the VAP there are specific reason for the separate bills:

"1. Several legislators last year were concerned that our bill excluded state employees. 2. If state employees are included, then the bill has a fiscal impact for the state budget and we have been told, nothing will pass that costs the state money. 3. SB 1062 does not have a fiscal impact for the state and if the legislators want to ensure coverage for state employees, then we have a bill that will do that and they can support SB 1061 without endangering SB 1062 by giving it a state budget impact."

Lavada Robertson of the Virginia Autism Project is hoping meaningful insurance reform will pass this year.

"We have to start somewhere and this is it," said Robertson. "The Autism community needs to come together to get this accomplished."

VAP officials say this approach is a good first step for establishing the costs of autism treatment to the insurance industry.

According to the VAP, Texas passed similar legislation in 2007. The group is hoping everyone will get involved in the process.

"Autism affects 1 in 110 children and is growing rapidly," said Robertson. "We ask that you call and email your Delegate and State Senator and ask them for a favor, to co-patron the Autism insurance bills introduced by Senator Janet Howell."

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