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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Is 2015 the Year for a Hawaii Mandate?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports (via Insurance News Net):
After years of trying, advocates for children with autism are hopeful that the Legislature will pass a bill requiring medical insurance companies to provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment.

Hawaii is one of only 12 states that do not require health insurance coverage for children with autism, said Lorri Shealy Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for the national advocacy group Autism Speaks.

"I think the states are realizing that this is a fiscal and moral imperative," Unumb, the mother of an autistic child, said at a joint hearing of the Senate Health and Commerce and Consumer Protection committees Friday.

The two committees moved out Senate Bill 791, which requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for autism diagnosis and treatment for children until age 11 and a total lifetime maximum benefit of about $220,000.

Senate Health Chairman Josh Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua-Kona), who introduced the bill, said parties from the health insurance industry and the advocacy groups worked with him to reach a compromise after a similar measure died in the closing days of the 2014 Legislature.

"I really believe that this is the year that it's going to pass," he said after Friday's hearing.