Legislation providing for autism health insurance coverage has been introduced in the General Assembly twice in recent years, but both times failed to gain enough support to even make it through committee; on May 15, HB498 overwhelmingly passed the House with a vote of 105 to 7. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Representatives Chuck McGrady, Tom Murry, Tricia Ann Cotham and Phil Shepard. There are 36 other co-sponsors of the bill.
ASD is a family of treatable neurobiological disorders that impact more children than cancer, AIDS, and diabetes combined. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors which hampers their ability to become independent and productive members of society.
There are nearly 60,000 people with ASD in North Carolina who face significant barriers to treatment because of the financial hardship that this lack of coverage imposes. Autism disorders do not differ from other non-curable chronic medical conditions which are routinely covered by health insurance — including , diabetes, and hypertension — but health plans in North Carolina aren’t currently required to cover their diagnosis or treatment. 32 states have enacted some form of ASD insurance coverage and eight more are considering it. (more…)