Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mandate Stalls in North Carolina

Carolina Public Press reports on a proposed insurance mandate in North Carolina. The arguments for and against are similar to those in other states.

With the North Carolina General Assembly’s long session now concluded, legislation that would have required all health insurance companies in the state to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism won’t become law this year.

But the Autism Society of North Carolina, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Raleigh, says the complementary Senate and House bills in committee could be revisited during the General Assembly’s short session beginning around in May 2012.

Senate Bill 115 has been in the Senate’s Committee on Insurance since Feb. 24, the day it passed a first reading in the Senate and a day after it was filed. Comparable House Bill 826 similarly has been in the House’s Committee on Health and Human Services since the House passed a first reading of it April 7.

Jennifer Mahan, director of government relations for the Autism Society of North Carolina, said Monday, “in general, insurance law that mandates additional coverage is never popular in North Carolina.”


Mahan said a legislative fiscal note attached to the proposed legislation put the cost at an additional $10 million to $13 million a year for the state health plan, though Mahan said the Autism Society think the cost would be more in the range of $5 million to $7 million a year.

“We think there’s a significant ramping-up period,” she said, which would decrease initial cost estimates. For example, Mahan said, South Carolina has seen about half of the expected utilization of state-mandated autism diagnosis and treatment coverage than expected.

And besides the cost issue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield raise the usual objection that ABA is educational, not medical.