The Legislature on Tuesday sent House Bill 885 to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has supported the measure and is expected to sign it. It extends health insurance coverage to autism services, such as Applied Behavior Analysis – called ABA.
The bill restricts coverage to children ages 2-8, but ongoing treatments can continue after that age cap if deemed medically necessary.
The bill also regulates the practice of ABA therapy and requires providers obtain state licenses.
"Today is a great day for so many families who face the daily struggles and challenges of autism," said state Sen. Rita Parks, R-Corinth, who authored the Senate version of the bill. "I have no doubt that this will help these children become more independent and productive citizens of our state."
The average policy holder will see an estimated 32-cent increase as a result of the change, said state Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, who brought up the measure Tuesday on the House floor, where members unanimously voted to send it to the governor.
But small business owners apparently complained the increase would unjustly affect them, prompting a Senate amendment allowing those employing less than 100 people to pass along the charges to plan participants.
"Let's get this on the books. We can always come back to this," Chrism said in response to criticism by state Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville.