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Friday, January 28, 2011

Virginia Insurance Mandate Advances

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

With the powerful backing of Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, a bill to mandate coverage of autism disorders passed Thursday in a House of Delegates committee that had killed it in previous sessions.

The bill was limited to apply to children from ages 2 to 6, to cap annual costs at $35,000 and to apply to businesses that employ more than 50 people and are not self-insured. It also covers public employees.

Passage by the House Commerce and Labor Committee, on a 15-6 vote, virtually assures its passage in the General Assembly session, because the pro-business committee has blocked it in recent sessions. Another bill is pending in the Virginia Senate, but the Senate has always favored the mandated benefit.

"We have never gotten out of committee in the House of Delegates," said John W. Maloney of Henrico County, an advocate whose 15-year-old son has autism. "It's really exciting."