Lawmakers said a package of bills requiring autism diagnosis and treatment coverage shouldn't be considered a mandate on insurers, but a “moral public responsibility.”
A series of bipartisan bills sailed through the state Senate’s Health Policy Committee on Thursday with support from both sides of the aisle.
But Democrats and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley – a strong advocate of the package – said the bills are only a first step, and that coverage should someday be extended to other forms of brain disorders.
“This was a time when both parties could rise above the rhetoric and do the right thing for Michigan’s kids,” Calley said after the committee vote. “It’s a good day, and a good first step.”
None of the senators voted against any of the bills, thought Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, passed on voting for two because he disagreed with some language.
The bills -- SB 414, 415 and 981 -- would require insurers to cover an autism diagnosis and treatment. They would also direct the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department to create an autism coverage incentive program through which insurance carriers and third-party administrators could seek reimbursement for paid claims.
The bills, sponsored by Sens. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, Mike Green, R-Mayville, and Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, are estimated to cost about $15 million a year at first, and supporters said 29 states have similar laws.
The two days of hearings included testimony from high-profile supporters, including Richardville and Calley, who has a daughter with the disorder.