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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mandate Legislation in West Virginia

Legislators continued meeting at the Capitol Wednesday as part of their monthly interim committee meetings. They are still discussing the possibility of a mandate requiring insurance companies to cover children with autism.

There also aren’t a lot of treatment options in West Virginia. Dr. Barbara Becker-Cottrill runs the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University. It provides services to 1900 families, but doesn’t have the resources to offer intensive therapy to everyone....

“We do have some quality services, but we have way too few,” she said. “Right now, we have 150 families on our application list, meaning that they are sitting and hoping that their turn is going to come up next. We used to have up to 300 families waiting; we’ve cut it in half to 150. That’s still not good. No family should be waiting.”


Lorri Unumb says the states that have already instituted some form of autism coverage haven’t seen premiums skyrocket. She’s a senior policy analyst for Autism Speaks, and her home state of South Carolina passed an autism insurance bill in 2008.

“I have seen it successfully implemented,” she said. “Despite the doomsday predictions from the opponents that we hear in state after state, none of our insurers fled the state, none of our businesses closed up shop because of the addition of this benefit. Indeed, the impact on premiums has been negligible.”

Different states have passed bills that vary in the amount of coverage provided, but cost estimates range from 74 cents to $15 added on to the premiums of each member per month, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.