NEW YORK (April 2, 2013) -- North Carolina celebrated World Autism Awareness Day with the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would require state-regulated health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism.
Autism Speaks has endorsed the bill, HB.498, which is sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Tom Murry (R-Wake), and Phil Shepard (R-Onslow).
North Carolina is one of just 18 states yet to reform its insurance laws to require the coverage of autism. The new bill would cover speech, occupational and physical therapy; behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, would be covered for up to $75,000 a year. The bill would take effect October 1.
In addition, the bill would benefit military families stationed in North Carolina by removing restrictive laws that prevent TRICARE providers from operating in the state. TRICARE is the Department of Defense health insurance program. More than a quarter million active duty and retired military personnel and their dependents reside at installations in North Carolina, including Camp LeJeune, Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.
"We commend our legislative champions for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of North Carolina families," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. "Autism Speaks joins North Carolina's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB.498 and join the growing majority of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism."
In addition to North Carolina, Hawaii, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee and Georgia are pursuing autism insurance reform and five other states are moving bills to expand their existing coverage.