Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insurance Action in Louisiana, Vermont, and Alabama

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The Advocate reports:
More children with autism spectrum disorders would be able to get health insurance coverage under legislation that sailed through the Louisiana House on Tuesday.
The House voted 96-0 for the legislation and gave bill sponsor state Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, a round of applause after the vote. Seventy state representatives joined as coauthors of the House Bill 771.
... 
Foil’s measure would expand the mandatory coverage in current law for coverage of diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. He said he is trying to provide some additional relief to parents faced with the cost of expensive therapies and children in need of care.
HB771 would raise from age 17 to age 21 the age for mandatory coverage and eliminate a lifetime maximum benefit of $144,000. The legislation would also extend the mandatory coverage to any plan issued to an employer with 50 or fewer employees. The new requirements would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Foil said the current mandated coverage had been estimated to increase policy costs by $1.25 per month. The actual cost turned out to be 29 cents per month. He said the expanded coverage would add only 2 cents a month.
Autism Votes reports:
The Vermont Senate completed legislative action on a bill that would broaden the state's 2010 autism insurance reform law to cover more children and young adults and sent it to Governor Peter Shumlin for his signature. The bill, S.223, is one of several in the nation to expand existing autism insurance benefits and the first to be voted out of a state legislature. Similar bills are moving in Louisiana and Kansas.
Sponsored by Senator Anthony Pollina (D-North Middlesex), the bill would require coverage for the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of childhood development disorders, including autism, from birth through age 21. Under existing law. those benefits are limited to children aged 18 months through six years old.
Coverage includes state-regulated private indivdual and group health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or any other public health care assistance program. The Medicaid and public health plan provisions would take effect July 1; the private health plan coverage would begin October 1.
The bill also requires the Agency of Human Services, in consultation with Autism Speaks and health insurers, to assess whether eligible individuals are receiving evidence-based services, how the services could be improved, and their fiscal impact by January 15, 2014.


Alabama Live reports:
Alabama lawmakers gave final approval today to a watered-down version of legislation aimed at getting more insurance coverage for autism treatment.
The House of Representatives voted 96-0 for the bill, sending it to the governor for his signature.
The legislation requires insurance companies to offer coverage for the treatment of autism, including for a costly behavioral therapy that now is rarely covered. Businesses could choose whether to offer the coverage as part of their insurance options for employees.
An original version of the bill would have mandated the coverage, but the sponsor said he did not have the votes to get that passed.
"It's one more step down the road for providing benefits and better opportunities for those on the autism spectrum in Alabama," said sponsor Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. "Obviously it's not everything we wanted, but it's definitely still moving it forward."