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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trying to Revive the Georgia Mandate

Even though the Georgia mandate legislation appears to have stalled for the time being, autism advocates are pressing on.  The Gainesville Times reports:
The Georgia Senate Insurance and Labor Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday on “Ava’s Law” that would require insurance companies and other health insurance plans to cover treatments for autism, including applied behavioral analysis.
The bill is named for Ava Bullard, an 8-year-old girl from Lyons with autism, whose mother, Anna, has advocated for expanded autism coverage.
Georgia is one of 18 states that doesn’t require insurance plans to cover autism treatments. Carpenter, other mothers and supporters are planning to show up at the state Capitol to show their support for legislation. But with just 10 days remaining in the legislative session, its chances of passing are dim.

Judith Ursitti, director State Government Affairs of Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization, said autism is a treatable condition and children with intensive therapy and early intervention can “lose” their autism diagnosis.
Ursitti plans on testifying before the Senate insurance committee Monday. The Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits, created by Sen. Tim Golden, R-Valdosta, in 2011, will discuss autism legislation Tuesday. Golden, chairman of the Insurance Committee, created the commission to study the social and financial impact of legislation that mandates insurance benefits or providers. However, Ursitti said the organization has worked to pass autism legislation since 2009 and the commission has never studied the issue.
“It’s important to note that there’s nothing that says they (lawmakers) have to wait for the mandate commission to act,” she said.
There are bills in both the Senate and House, but their language is the same. “Crossover Day” in the Georgia General Assembly on Thursday is the deadline when bills stuck in committees and not voted on out of one chamber are dead for that year. Both bills remain in each chamber’s insurance committees.