Texas Bill Eliminating Age Caps Heads to Final Vote

AUSTIN (May 14, 2013) -- The Texas House Insurance Committee approved 6-0 a bill that would eliminate the current age 10 cap for receiving autism insurance benefits. Already approved by the Senate, SB.1484 now heads to the House Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a final vote on the House floor.

Sponsored by Senators Kirk Watson of Austin, Wendy Davis of Forth Worth and Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville, the bill eliminates the current age cap of 10 on autism insurance benefits that was enacted in 2009. When Texas became just the third state nationally to enact autism insurance reform in 2007, coverage was limited for children aged 3 to 5.

The current law requires state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as well as speech, occupational and physical therapy. The age change would take effect in September if the bill becomes law and would limit annual ABA benefits to $36,000 for children aged 10 and above.

Texas is one of four states with existing autism insurance reform laws that has picked up bills to expand coverage this year. A fifth state, New Mexico, has already enacted a new law expanding its coverage to public employees.