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.
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Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

Music makers


Members of the Glen Allen High School Marching Band perform at Glen Allen High School Oct. 16 as part of the annual Henrico County Public Schools Band Showcase. > Read more.

McShin Academy expanding to St. Joseph’s Villa


Two Lakeside-area nonprofits are partnering to create what is believed to be the first recovery high school in Virginia.

The McShin Academy will be a joint effort of the McShin Foundation (a recovery community organization based at Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Lakeside) and St. Joseph's Villa (a 183-year-old nonprofit on Brook Road that provides a variety of services for children with special needs). > Read more.

Reynolds CC dedicates student center


Reynolds Community College recently celebrated the dedication of the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center, named for longtime supporters of the college who have made numerous investments in it.

Jerry Owen served on the Reynolds College Board from 1984 to 1988, and he and his wife support the college’s scholarship fund and created an endowment for the Reynolds Middle College, which helps students earn a high school equivalency and transition into a degree or workforce credential program. > Read more.

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As part of its 25th anniversary, the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies welcomes back 2008–09 Leader-in-Residence Leland Melvin, ’86, for a discussion of his new memoir, "Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances." "Chasing Space" traces the former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver’s “personal journey from the gridiron to the stars.” The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 6 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow. For tickets, call 289-8980. Full text

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