Author: Corrin Howe Published: February 20, 2010 at 6:19 am
The state legislatures in Virginia and Missouri took one step closer this week to joining 15 other states, which have passed laws mandating insurance companies cover therapies for autism.
The Virginia Senate voted 27 to 13 to require insurance companies to cover up to $35,000 a year for treatment of autism in children ages two to six years old.
The bill allows small businesses to opt out if the premium increases make it unaffordable. Ironically, the bill does not require the Commonwealth of Virginia to cover state employees. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for a vote.
The Missouri House passed a bill that will require group insurance companies regulated by the state to cover up to $36,000 a year for children under 18.
Earlier this month the Missouri Senate passed a bill which would require insurance companies to cover up to $55,000 a year up until 21 years old. Like Virginia, the Missouri legislature allows small businesses under 50 employees to opt out of this coverage. The Senate will now work to reconcil the two bills.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon released a statement praising the house for passing this bill as “a major forward step for children with autism. The bill passed by the House would ensure that children and families have access to both an autism diagnosis, and to treatments and therapies that have been shown to make a major and lasting difference.”
Autism Votes, an advocacy program under Autism Speaks, keeps track of states which have passed laws mandating insurance companies cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. According to their website, 15 states have laws mandating coverage, 18 states have endorsed insurance reform bills, 13 states are waiting to introduce reform bills to the legislatures and five states have not done anything.
Autism effects one in 110 children, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a neurological disorder hindering normal development in language and social interactions.