Delegate Bob Thomas on Tuesday announced House Bill 2577, legislation to lift the age cap for autism coverage to help approximately 10,000 Virginians get access to needed healthcare. At a press conference, Delegate Thomas was joined by Speaker Kirk Cox and House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones to discuss the legislation.
“This announcement has been a long time coming in Virginia,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “The CDC now estimates that Autism impacts 1 in 59 children in our country, a number that is growing at 15% per year. I am proud of the work done by Delegate Bob Thomas and Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones to get us to where we are today.”
Currently, state law only says that health insurers must offer such coverage for individuals from age 2 through age 10. According to a January, 2013 report from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center of Excellence, the average age of diagnosis in Virginia is between six and seven years of age. This means for many diagnosed, they could only have three years of covered treatment before coverage could be limited.
“As a father of eight I know just how important ensuring children have access to quality healthcare is,” said Delegate Bob Thomas (R-Stafford). “Children did not choose to be born with Autism. We should do everything we can to continue to learn about the causes– but also provide treatment for those diagnosed regardless of age.”
No other prevalent health condition including– asthma, diabetes and cancer– has coverage limits imposed based on the age of the patient. Coverage for all other health conditions is based on medical necessity. The Department of Human Resource Management reports for State Health insurance plans this proposal will have an estimated fiscal impact of $237,00 – $118,500 is the state cost from our General Fund budget
“Watching every dollar the Commonwealth spends is one of my responsibilities that I take very seriously,” said House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones (R – Suffolk). “But, compared to the services that will now be available to the Autism community and to the families who care for an autistic loved one – the cost is worth it.”