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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Insurance Industry Bill in Kansas

Dave Ranney writes for the KHI News Service: 
Agreement remains elusive on proposed legislation that would require health insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of some autistic children.
Last week, Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican, said he was close to reaching accord with insurance company lobbyists on a bill that would expand autism coverage to several hundred Kansas children. But that didn’t happen.
“We were unable to reach consensus on a compromise bill,” Rubin said, “So the insurance companies on Friday introduced their own bill.”
Rubin said the insurance company proposal, House Bill 2704, is “wholly unacceptable to me and to the autism community. It doesn’t accomplish anything positive. It’s likely that I will testify against it.”
Today, the bill was referred by House leaders to the House Taxation Committee, which exempted it from some looming legislative deadlines.
Rubin’s preferred bill, HB 2531, has not had a hearing nor has it been referred to a deadline-exempt committee.
The bill from the insurance companies would limit the autism coverage to state-regulated, large-group plans — those covering at least 51 employees — sold after Jan. 1, 2015. Coverage would be limited to no more than 520 hours of treatment per year for children less than nine years old.
Rubin’s bill would limit coverage to 40 hours a week (2,080 hours a year) for children up to age 19. It also would have applied to all state-regulated policies — individual, small-group, and large-group — in place before enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
Rubin’s bill would cover an estimated 750 children. The insurance company bill would cover less than 200, according to Michael Wasmer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks.