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Virginia Autism Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

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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.

Teresa Champion with the Virginia Autism Project says she was talking about every child when she first started advocating for autism coverage in Virginia a few years ago.

For her the bill sitting on the governor's desk represents a compromise -- it only applies to children from ages 2 to 6. But she says it would still make a huge difference.

"Once a state passes this sort of legislation, even businesses and insurance companies that aren't required, do in fact cover children with autism. So it starts a groundswell," she says.

Champion says autism advocates have spent the past month asking for a face-to-face meeting with McDonnell to discuss the bill.

"We haven't been able to have a seat at the table with others who have had the opportunity to talk directly to the governor, or his staff," she says.

Among those Champion worries about is Barry DuVall, with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He says he understands the plight of families with autistic children, but forcing small businesses to pay for a new insurance mandate is not the way to go.

"For each need there is in our society, to mandate a specific piece of legislation for business to cover it, ultimately the businesses would not be able to sustain themselves in meeting the societal needs," DuVall says.

A spokesperson for the governor says letters from both sides are being reviewed before the governor makes his decision.

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