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Friday, February 3, 2012

Insurance Developments in West Virginia, Vermont, Missouri, and Virginia

At West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Adam Cavalier reports:
Kanawha County Democrat Mark Hunt told lawmakers that insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue shield are not honoring a bill that is supposed to provide insurance coverage for behavorial therapy for these children. Hunt took his anger to the floor Thursday to talk about his own son who has autism.

“It’s already too late for my son,” Hunt said. “My son is where he is, my son will never be self sufficient. Now my wife is 10 years younger than me, and thank God for that, because when I die, there’s going to be at least 10 more years where someone is going to take care of my son. That he won’t be cold and hungry, he’ll be able to make the right decisions. While my son may be high functioning and can read and write – he goes to school everyday – if left to his own devices, he’d play video games all day and not eat. We have to tell him when it’s time to eat.”

House Bill 4260 cleans up the autism bill passed during the 2011 regular session. It was passed unanimously by the house judiciary committee yesterday. It heads to the house finance committee. The bill clarifies that evaluation of autism is to be covered by insurance companies.
AP reports on Vermont:
Some Vermont lawmakers are joining with advocates for people with autism to urge passage of a bill that would require private health insurance to provide coverage for treatments for people with autism.
It's already required for children up through the age of 6. The Legislature would expand that coverage to those older than 6.
Claudia Pringles of Montpelier said at a news conference Wednesday that programs for her 12-year-old daughter with autism stop at the end of the school day, because she can't afford the out-of-pocket expense for after-school tutoring and counseling.
Sen. Anthony Pollina of Washington County and Rep. Jason Lorber of Burlington also spoke in support of the bill.
Missouri's health insurance costs rose just one-tenth of 1 percent due to a requirement that some Missouri health insurers pay to treat autism, the state Department of Insurance reported Tuesday.
The state said Missourians filed 3,805 claims for coverage and they cost insurers $4.3 million. One out of every 350 people with coverage received autism therapy.
After a long campaign, parents of autistic children convinced the legislature to mandate coverage in 2010, and the mandate began to take efect in January 2011. The insurance industry opposed the bill, as it does most coverage mandates, claiming they raise insurance premiums.
"This report shows good news on two fronts," said John M. Huff, state director of insurance. "First, it shows that the new law has already helped thousands of Missourians. Second, it shows the autism mandate should have minimal impact on health care costs and insurance premiums."
At The Washington Post, Anita Kumar writes of Virginia:
Update at 4 p.m.: McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said the governor will sign the bill.

The General Assembly has passed a bill — again — to provideinsurance coverage for families with autistic children.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill Monday. The bill has already overwhelmingly passed the House of Delegates. It will now head to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) for his signature.
McDonnell already signed a bill into law last spring mandating coverage, but Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) determined that the legislation contained imprecise language that legislators needed to correct.
Since then, families who expected insurance coverage have continued to pay out of pocket — if they can afford it — or forgo treatments they say could help their children learn basic skills such as walking and talking.