GA Advocates Converge On Capitol For Ava's Law

ATLANTA (February 4, 2014) -- More than 100 Georgia autism advocates converged on the state capitol today to urge lawmakers to pass Ava's Law in 2014 and make Georgia the 35th state to enact autism insurance reform.

The advocates visited capitol offices and then held a press conference with the bill sponsors, Rep. Ben Harbin (at podium), Senator John Albers and Anna Bullard, the mother of Ava Bullard, for whom the legislation is named. Rep. Scott Turner, who has a son with autism, shared his story as well.

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.)

The campaign received a boost earlier this when Gov. Nathan Deal included coverage for state employees and teachers in his new budget proposal submitted to the Legislature. Autism Speaks commended the move while continuing to urge the Legislature to also pass the broader coverage that wopuld be provided under Ava's Law.

Georgia is one of four Southern states considering autism insurance rteform legislation. In Mississippi, a bill cleared committee yesterday and was moved for a final House vote. In Tennessee, hearings are expected shortly on an autism insurance reform bill while the North Carolina Senate this spring is due to vote on a bill that passed the House 105-7 last year.

Prior to yesterday's rally, Senator Albers joined with Anna and Ava Bullard on NBC-11 (watch below)