A renewed push to require health insurance companies cover treatments for autism is brewing at the Alabama State House.
Alabama is one of five states that does not require insurance coverage for autism treatments, like applied behavior analysis, known as ABA. Many families in state pay expensive, out of pocket bills for the treatment.
Representative Jim Patterson filed a bill to mandate the insurance providers include coverage. Similar bills have been introduced in the past, but have not had success in Alabama.
Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) says the bill does not have a good chance of passing as it is written, pointing to the influence the insurance industry has in Montgomery
“It's one of those industries in Montgomery that have a lot of influence and it's hard to explain to a family with an autistic child to explain why it's not covered and why are you letting the insurance industry dominate on this issue,” said Waggoner.
Insurance providers in Alabama are required to offer autism therapies like ABA to its customers. The legislation requiring this, the “Riley Ward Act” was passed in 2012.
Senator Cam Ward (R- Alabaster) tells ABC 33/40 this has helped and several companies in Alabama have opted to provide the insurance plans with the enhanced coverage. However, he said “there’s still a big gap” between the families who have access to the coverage and those who need it.
The proposal, HB 284, has had its first reading in the House and has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.From the Autism Society of Alabama:
Thank you Jim Patterson, Madison for your leadership introducing House Bill 284 to cover autism therapies with no age cap. Please use this link to call, email or write your AL House of Representative Member. Your member may also be on Facebook, twitter or instagram.http://www.legislature.state.al.us
Please ask your House of Representative Member for his/her support of HB 284. Please include the reason this is important to your family and our community. Please ask grandparents, extended family, church friends and neighbors to message their House of Representative Member on behalf of your family. In autism family life, sometimes, friends will ask, “How can I help your family?” Here is a great, easy way for friends and extended family to help your family living with autism.