Health insurance companies in Virginia are not required by law to cover medical care for children with autism. Virginia families have fought hard for a state bill which would require the children to be covered, but recently the bill was killed in the state Senate.
Business groups and health insurance companies lobbied hard against the passage of the bill. The lobbyists argued that the bill was a bad idea and would be too expensive in this time of economic recession. According to the Washington Post, the Virginia state Senators failed to come up with a workable compromise and the bill went down to defeat.
It was estimated by one of the lobbyists that the state of Virginia would incur and additional $40 million in costs per year. The lobbyist also stated that the mandate would be the second largest in Virginia, if not the first.
State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel tried to offer a compromise when the bill stalled. Initially the bill covered all autistic children, but Senator Vogel suggested a cap at age 12, then later offered a cap to age 6. Neither option helped the bill get through and it failed.
The failure of the Virginia bill brings to light a key issue in the national health care debate. Should children with autism be guaranteed health insurance? Ohio is considering a similar bill, and Florida already has mandated health coverage for autistic children.
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