GA Governor Proposes ABA Coverage for State Employees

ATLANTA (January 16, 2014) --Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed the introduction of autism insurance coverage through the state employee health plan in his new budget proposal. If approved by the Legislature, the coverage would be the first in Georgia for applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other medically necessary autism treatments.

"Autism Speaks joins with the Georgia autism community in cheering Governor Deal for his leadership in taking meaningful action with autism in Georgia," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs. "We are thrilled with this important announcement, and we remain committed to the passage of Ava's Law this year to provide coverage to many more Georgia families."

Georgia is one of just 16 remaining states yet to require state-regulated health plans to cover ABA and other autism treatments. Deal's state budget proposal calls for $2.4 million in the state employee health plan to cover ABA and other treatments starting in 2015 for both state employees and teachers. 

Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans), who is sponsoring Ava's Law (HB.309), commended Deal for his action, but made clear he intends to press forward in the current legislative session with his bill. Last year, the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee heard testimony on Ava's Law, but then referred it to a Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Benefits.

The commission voted 7-4 last November against recommending the Legislature take up the bill. Both Harbin and Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), the Senate sponsor of Ava's Law vowed shortly after that vote to press forward in 2014 with the bill.

Ava's Law is named after Ava Bullard whose mother, Anna Bullard of Lyons, has helped lead Georgia advocates for autism insurance reform.