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VA House To Debate Autism Insurance Coverage

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Teresa Champion, mother of an autistic son, is hoping Virginia lawmakers mandate some form of insurance coverage for autism treatments.
Jonathan Wilson
Teresa Champion, mother of an autistic son, is hoping Virginia lawmakers mandate some form of insurance coverage for autism treatments.

By Jonathan Wilson

Autism advocates in Virginia are hoping this is the year state legislators mandate insurance coverage for autism treatments.

The state's Senate has already voted through a bill that would do just that. This week, the House is expected to take up the issue.

Republican Delegate Tim Hugo of Centreville is a supporter of the autism legislation. But he says it's likely the debate over the bill will be tougher in the House than it was in the Senate, where it passed on a 27 to 13 vote last week.

"Democrats and Republicans have been hesitant to vote for this because of the potential increases in insurance rates," says Hugo.

But Hugo says this year autism advocates have narrowed their focus only asking for coverage for autistic children between the ages of 2 and 6.

Teresa Champion of the Virginia Autism Project, says the bill also allows insurers a chance to opt out if costs get too high.

"We are so confident that this is not going to cost you more than a 1 percent increase in your premiums, that were going to give you the ability to opt out of this if it does," says Champion.

Fifteen other states have passed legislation mandating some form of coverage for childhood autism treatments.

The bill is scheduled to come up in the Virginia House Commerce and Labor committee on Tuesday.

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