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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

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Days, an annual event which celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World, from 10 a.m.… Full text

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