Although a Senate committee passed a bill requiring health insurance coverage for children with autism, its future is cloudy in this year's session of the General Assembly.
The autism bill passed unanimously in the Senate insurance committee and is popular among Senate leadership. Parents of children with autism have lobbied at the capitol for years for its passage. But business and insurance lobbyists oppose it – and House Speaker Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge)says he is unwilling to support a bill that he says may pose a hardship on small businesses.
"My concern is that we have to have a resolution that's fair and doesn't work a hardship on businesses that results in people losing jobs because of a mandate," Ralston said Monday.
Last year, Gov. Deal ordered the state insurance system to cover autism treatment for the children of state employees. Ralston says he wants to wait a year or more for a cost benefit analysis from that program before supporting the autism bill.Ralston takes a lot of campaign money from the insurance industry.