A popular state Senate bill requiring private insurers to cover autism treatment for young children was scrutinized Wednesday by members of a House committee. Representatives don’t want small businesses to pay more for insurance.
Under the bill, insurance companies would have to cover autism treatment coverage for children six years old and younger. Insurance Committee Chairman Richard Smith, R-Columbus, says small businesses can’t afford the extra costs.
“How do I go back home and say by the way, we just voted to raise your insurance premium,” Smith says.
But Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, says the costs for taxpayers is much higher without the treatment because studies show early autism intervention is successful. He says it’s more expensive to educate in a special needs classroom versus a regular one.
“If that business is in that precarious of a financial position, I kind wonder whether they’re going to be able to pay their property taxes when all these children show up in elementary school and cost the district an extra $10,000, $12,000, $14,000 per year,” Bethel says.