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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stalling in Georgia

Andy Miller of Georgia Health News reports that Ava's Law is stalling in the state's House Insurance Committee.  A hearing resulted in no vote:
Anna Bullard, of Lyons, told the panel how ABA therapy improved life for her daughter, Ava. At age 2, the girl did not talk.
The Bullards’ insurance policy did not cover ABA, but the family paid for her to get it. Now, Ava “is at the top of her class’’ in a regular education curriculum, Bullard said.
“Ava is an example of the potential,’’ Bullard said. “Having a child, the most important thing is that they can speak.”
State Sen. Tommie Williams. R-Lyons, who is related to Ava, told the House lawmakers that their role “is to determine what makes good policy.”
As an employer, Williams said, “I’m not just looking for the best price [on health insurance]. I’m looking for the best policy.’’
Their testimony was countered by business and insurance groups.
Kyle Jackson of the National Federation of Independent Business said his small business members are very concerned about the rising costs of health insurance.
If the autism bill passes, he said, “I’m not going to say the sky is going to fall . . . but there is a cost to this.”
Jackson’s testimony was supported by David Raynor, of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. And Graham Thompson of the Georgia Association of Health Plans said “there will be an impact’’ if the bill is approved.
ABA is not considered “an essential health benefit’’ under the Affordable Care Act, he added.
Allan Hayes of America’s Health Insurance Plans testified that “ABA therapy is not a cure’’ for autism. Insurance mandates increase costs for employers, Hayes said.
Aaron Gould Sheinin reports at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The chairman of the House Insurance Committee said Wednesday that he will not allow a bill to pass this year that would mandate insurance coverage for treatment of autism for a limited number of Georgians.Instead, Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, said he will introduce legislation later this week that would let voters decide whether to levy a new fractional state sales tax to provide treatment for all children with autism-related disorders.
Smith said Senate Bill 1 “is bad policy.” He said the bill would only provide coverage for 15 out of every 100 children with the disorder.
“What are you going to do with the other 85?” he asked. “How are you going to explain that to mom and dad, they’re not going to get treatment? It’s wrong. I will not pass that bill out of insurance.”