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Bill mandates autism insurance coverage

Health insurance plans provided by the state government and other large employers would have to cover services for young children with autism under a bill approved by the House of Delegates.

On a 74-24 vote Wednesday, the House passed the measure, which had been championed by legislators from Northern Virginia and inspired by families there.

House Bill 2467, proposed by Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason, R-Potomac Falls, would require certain health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and treatment of ASD in children age 2-6, up to $35,000 a year.

The legislation would apply to companies with more than 50 employees. It also applies to state government, because it incorporates a related proposal (HB 2512) sponsored by Delegate Timothy Hugo, R-Centreville.

“Hundreds of families will get the care they need to help make a real difference in the treatment of this disorder,” Greason said.
Hugo agreed.

“Since the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children, and 1 in 70 boys are affected by autism, our two bills will help improve the future of many children diagnosed with autism,” he said.

Over the past decade, advocates for autistic children have made repeated attempts to require such insurance coverage in Virginia. The issue has never gotten this far in the General Assembly.
This year, the bill won support from House Speaker William J. Howell after proponents agreed to limit the coverage and the benefits and to exempt small group insurance policies.
Insurance plans included in the proposed mandate would cover applied behavioral analysis and other therapies for autistic children.
According to the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget, the Greason-Hugo legislation would cost the state more than $1 million in additional insurance premiums each year.
Some conservatives, such as the group Americans for Prosperity, have opposed the bill as government interference in the private sector. Many other states already require insurance plans to cover autism services.
HB 2467 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
The Senate also is considering its own version of the legislation – Senate Bill SB 1062, sponsored by Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston. It received a unanimous endorsement on Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee.
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On the Web
To track or comment on the autism insurance bills, visit the Richmond Sunlight website:
http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2467
http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2512
http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/sb1062
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How They Voted
Here is how the House of Delegates voted Wednesday, Feb. 2, on HB 2467 (Health insurance; mandated coverage for autism spectrum disorder). The bill passed by a vote of 74 yeas and 24 nays. (But two delegates who voted “yea” later said they had meant to vote “nay.”)
YEAS--Abbott, Albo, Alexander, Anderson, Armstrong, Athey, BaCote, Barlow, Brink, Bulova, Carr, Cleaveland, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Dance, Ebbin, Edmunds, Englin, Filler-Corn, Garrett, Greason, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., Hugo, Ingram, James, Janis, Johnson, Keam, Kilgore, Knight, Kory, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, May, McClellan, McQuinn, Merricks, Miller, P.J., Morefield, Morgan, Morrissey, O'Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Phillips, Plum, Poindexter, Pollard, Purkey, Rust, Scott, J.M., Sherwood, Shuler, Sickles, Spruill, Stolle, Surovell, Tata, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Ware, R.L., Watts, Mr. Speaker--74.
NAYS--Abbitt, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Byron, Carrico, Cline, Cole, Cox, J.A., Gilbert, Habeeb, Iaquinto, Joannou, Jones, Landes, Lewis, Miller, J.H., Nutter, Peace, Pogge, Putney, Robinson, Scott, E.T., Wilt, Wright--24.
ABSTENTIONS--0.
NOT VOTING--Villanueva--1.
Delegate Cleaveland recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Morefield recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Community

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

Author, child abuse survivor to speak at Henrico event

To help celebrate twenty years of service to advocating for abused and neglected children in Henrico County, Henrico Court Appointed Special Advocates, Inc. (CASA) will host an evening with bestselling author K.L. Randis on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Belmont Recreation Center in Lakeside.

Randis is best known for her bestselling novel, Spilled Milk, which tells her painful – but ultimately triumphant – personal story of abuse and of child abuse prevention. The book is her first novel.

The event is free to the public, but seating is limited Reservations may be made by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Belmon Recreation Center is located at 1600 Hilliard Road. > Read more.

Philippines ambassador to the US visits Filipino Festival in Henrico


The Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. attended the Ninth Annual Filipino Festival at Our Lady of Lourdes Church earlier this month. Cuisia (pictured above with festival performers) was welcomed by County Manager John Vithoulkas and Brookland District Supervisor Dick Glover (below) at the church, which is located in Lakeside.

While enjoying some of the cultural performances at the festival, the ambassador and his wife had a private lunch with Vithoulkas, Glover, Eldon Burton (an outreach representative from U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner’s Office) and Father James Begley, the pastor of OLL. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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James River Cellars Winery, 11008 Washington Hwy. in Glen Allen, will host a Labor Day Wine & Cheese Pairing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrate the holiday with a… Full text

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