State Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, and state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, filed almost identical bills. They have now signed on to each other’s and plan to push the legislation forward together. Kyle’s bill is sponsored in the House by state Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville.
Kyle acknowledged these types of bills “are difficult to pass.” Insurance lobbyists will almost certainly fight it, and lawmakers will be concerned about whether it will cost the state money to cover children served by TennCare.
But Kyle pointed out there is precedent for this type of law. His late aunt, state Sen. Anna Belle Clement O’Brien, worked to pass legislation requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms. It took her years, but she finally got it done. This is worth fighting for, Kyle said. To do that, he said, people impacted by autism need to make their voices heard.
“I just think folks who know folks need to step up and speak up to let the legislators know that this is something Tennessee children deserve no less than children in other states,” he said.
As for the potential cost to the state, Kyle said the coverage would begin on Jan. 1, 2014, meaning those costs might be picked up by the Affordable Care Act.