House Republicans are proposing a pilot program they're calling "a Utah solution" to the issue of whether insurance coverage for autism should be mandated.
The program, outlined during Tuesday's House GOP caucus meeting, would serve some 350 autistic children ages 2 to 6 whose parents don't have insurance or are covered by either the Public Employees Health Program or Medicaid.
Autism "has become an important priority for us," said House Majority Assistant Whip Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, calling the new language being drafted for HB272 "a great alternative to a mandate."
Menlove is sponsoring both HB272 and another bill, HB69, that mandates insurance companies cover autism. She said her preference is for the pilot program, acknowledging that lawmakers are feeling pressured to find a way to help families with autistic children.
There's interest from private insurers in helping to pay for the pilot as "a great alternative to a mandate," she said. "It's very encouraging."
Just how much the pilot program will cost remains to be seen. Menlove said she wants a total of $6 million from the state for the two-year program. "I'm a person who's going to think big," she said. "But I'm also realistic."