To the delight of the autism community, Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed the state's autism-insurance bills.
Virginia is the 26th state to enact autism-insurance reform legislation.
McDonnell had concerns with the bills, which require health insurers to cover some treatments for autistic children ages 2 to 6, and he tried to amend it in ways that advocates said watered it down.
He eventually came to an agreement with legislators to let some of his amendments pass. In exchange, he pledged not to veto the bill.
That didn't mean he had to sign it, though. It would have become law without his signature. Advocates, aware of McDonnell's objections, have been anxiously waiting to see if he would sign the measure.
"Denying autism claims was a senseless, arbitrary practice by the insurance industry in Virginia, and this law will put an end to it," said John Maloney who worked with other parents for years to pass the bill.
Autism Speaks joins the Virginia Autism Project and Virginia families in applauding Governor Bob McDonnell for signing House Bill 2467 and Senate Bill 1062 into law today.This legislation requires state-regulated health plans to provide coverage of autism diagnosis and treatment for children between the ages of two to six. Stakeholders and Virginia legislators have been working to pass autism insurance reform legislation in the Commonwealth for more than a decade.
HB 2467 was sponsored in the House by Delegates Tag Greason (District 32) and Tim Hugo (District 40). SB 1062 was sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Janet Howell (District 32).
"HB 2467 and SB 1062 are the culmination of over 11 years of legislative work, and countless hours of effort put forth by the parents and advocates in support of Autism, “ said Delegate Tag Greason. “This legislation delicately balances the needs of our families with the struggles that employers throughout the Commonwealth are faced with. It is the right thing to do and I am proud to be a small part of the process."
In addition to Virginia, twenty-five states – Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures are considering similar legislation during the 2011 session.