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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Business in brief


The Jenkins Foundation has granted The McShin Foundation $25,000 for residential recovery services to serve those with a Substance Use Disorder. The Jenkins Foundation is focused on equitable access to health care services, as well as programs that help reduce risky behaviors and promote safe and healthy environments. The McShin Foundation was founded in 2004 and is Virginia's leading non-profit, full-service Recovery Community Organization (RCO), committed to serving individuals and families in their fight against Substance Use Disorders. > Read more.

Early voting for Democratic nominations in Brookland, 73rd House districts tonight


APR. 24, 11:10 A.M. – Henrico Democrats will hold an early voting session tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in two party caucus elections.

Democrats in the county are selecting a nominee for the Brookland District seat on the Henrico Board of Supervisors and a nominee for the 73rd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Danny Plaugher, the executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail, and Courtney Lynch, the founder of the Lead Star leadership development organization, are seeking the Brookland District nomination. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: April 24, 2017


Crime Stoppers needs your help to identify the suspects who participated in a home invasion and robbery in the City of Richmond.

At approximately 2:33 A.M. April 12, four or five men forced their way through a rear door and into an apartment in the 1100 block of West Grace Street.

According to police, the suspects – one with a long gun and all but one in ski masks – bound the occupants with duct tape and robbed them of several items, including cash, mobile phones and a computer. > Read more.

HCPS named a ‘Best Community for Music Education’ for 18th straight year


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A safer way across


A project years in the making is beginning to make life easier for wheelchair-bound residents in Northern Henrico.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is completing a $2-million set of enhancements to the Brook Road corridor in front of St. Joseph's Villa and the Hollybrook Apartments, a community that is home to dozens of disabled residents. > Read more.
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YMCA event will focus on teen mental health


The YMCA, in partnership with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation and PartnerMD, will host a free event May 2 to help parents learn how to deal with teen mental health issues. “When the Band-Aid Doesn’t Fix It: A Mom’s Perspective on Raising a Child Who Struggles” will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Shady Grove Family YMCA,11255 Nuckols Road. The event will focus on education, awareness, and understanding the issues facing teens today. > Read more.

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Entertainment

Restaurant Watch


Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

 

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The American Legion Post 233, 8088 Recreation Rd. in Varina, will host a free Music Jam at 5 p.m. every fourth Thursday of the month. Featuring country gospel and bluegrass music. Anyone is welcome to play or sing. Food and drinks are available for purchase. For details, call Wayne Gilbert at 572-3124. Full text

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