A compromise bill that would establish a two-year pilot program to help young children with autism disorders advanced Wednesday with a 67-3 endorsement by the Utah House of Representatives and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Sponsored by Sen. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, HB272 would help children ages 2 to 6 in a three-pronged program focused on early intervention services. It helps Utah insurance companies avoid a "mandate" of insurance coverage, but instead directs impacted children on Medicaid or the Public Employees Health Program or those with parents with no insurance to appropriate services. Part of the funding, Menlove stressed, will come from private insurance companies that have stepped up to help.
She also said non-lapsing funds from the state Medicaid program would go toward funding the $6 million price tag for help that is critical in the early, formative years of children and families struggling to cope with the disorder. That price tag is up for negotiation she added, but described herself as an "optimist."
Crain's Detroit Business reports:
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, has introduced legislation that would set up a new state fund to reimburse insurers and third-party administrators for the cost of claims they pay to diagnose and treat autism.
But SB 981 is "tie-barred" with SBs 414 and 415, meaning the bill would not go into effect unless all bills are approved and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. He supports the autism legislation.
The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on health policy, chaired by Jim Marleau, R-Orion Township, who also supports autism legislation.
Under SB 981, the Michigan Department of Treasury has 120 days to create "an autism coverage incentive program" that would allow funds to be deposited into it from various sources. But the bill does not mandate how much funding the state Legislature should put into the autism claims fund.
"The department shall not make a commitment or exercise its authority under this act until the Legislature has appropriated sufficient funds to cover the same," the bill says.
The department also must develop and implement an application form that can be used by carriers and third-party administrators that seek reimbursement for the coverage of autism spectrum disorders.