'Ava's Law' Introduced in Georgia Senate
ATLANTA (February 22, 2013) -- Autism Speaks today endorsed SB.191, the Senate version of 'Ava's Law," which would require state-regulated health plans to cover autism-related therapies. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
"We commend Senator Albers for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Georgia families," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. "Autism Speaks joins Georgia's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB.191 and join the growing majority of states, including Florida and South Carolina, that have taken steps to end healthcare discrimination against children with autism."
Ava's Law would require up to $50,000 a year in coverage for behavior health treatment which is routinely denied by health insurers, even though evidence-based treatments have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General. Also it would require coverage for autism-related speech, occupational and physical therapy as well as pharmacy, psychological and psychiatric care. (A Fact Sheet on Ava's Law is here.)
A House version of the bill, (HB.309), has been introduced by Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans). In an interview with NBC 11, Home Depot Co-founder Bernie Marcus said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told him he would sign the bill if voted out of the Legislature.
The bill is named after Ava Bullard, whose mother Anna Bullard of Lyons, posted a YouTube video describing her family's experience raising a child with autism. Bullard and other Georgia advocates have helped rally support for the introduction of this year's bill. Georgia is one of just 18 states yet to enact autism insurance reform.
The bill would take effect 60 days after passage.