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Topeka Lights It Up, Autism Bill Heads To Governor

TOPEKA (April 2, 2014) -- The Kansas Senate marked 2014 World Autism Awareness Day by ending years of legislative debate and approving a bill that would expand insurance coverage of medically necessary treatments of autism. The measure heads to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Sponsored by Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee), the measure, HB.2744, was approved 38-2. The 'no' votes were cast by Senators Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) and Caryn Tyson (R-Parker). Brownback [left], meanwhile, announced he was participating in today's Light It Up Blue celebrations by illuminating Cedar Crest, the Kansas Governor's Residence.

The legislation is the latest in a series of attempts to expand Kansas' 2010 autism insurance reform law which is now restricted to state employees. The bill would require state-regulated large group and individual health plans to cover autism treatment for children up to the age of 12.

The 25-hour per week requirement for ABA would apply to the first four years following diagnosis then diminish to 520 hours per year afterwards.

“We’re very excited that it’s passed,” said Mike Wasmer, Autism Speaks associate director for state government affairs. "It’s not perfect. There are some flaws, but it’s clearly a step in the right direction.”

Rubin earlier had introduced a bill proposing stronger coverages, but under intense insurance lobby pressure a compromise bill emerged from the House Insurance Committee. During committee debate on the bill, Rep. Scott Schwab of Olathe said he opposed mandates and that he was averse to "dealing with other people's health insurance."

Schwab chairs the committee.

If signed by Brownback, the bill would enable Kansas to join nine other states that have amended their original autism insurance laws to make them stronger.