Ben Bullard reports at The Cullman Times:
The Alabama Senate will vote this week on a mandate for insurers to offer coverage for intensive applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has pledged.
“We will have all day Wednesday to have debate on that bill,” Marsh said last week. “Our intent is to get an autism bill to the governor.”
The bill would require some insurers to cover ABA therapy, an intensive treatment that can cost $100 per hour — out of financial reach for many families. Business and insurance groups have voiced opposition to the proposed mandate, citing cost concerns.
Hostilities erupted among senators last Wednesday, shortly after the Senate budget committee approved the bill on a 14-2 vote. Committee Chairman Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) — who says he’s worried about costs to Medicaid and other state insurance programs — said afterward that he might hold the bill in committee by not reporting it to the floor in order to negotiate for changes.
After pushback from other lawmakers, he relented, but criticized the idea of mandating new, yet-to-be-tallied expenses.
“At the end of the day, we have to be able to pay for the costs of this, and there are a lot of unknown costs,” he said.