ATLANTA (February 12, 2013) -- Georgia's new autism insurance reform bill -- Ava's Law-- has just been introduced and endorsed by Autism Speaks. Sponsored by Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans), the bill (HB.309), would require state-regulated health plans to cover autism-related therapies.
The bill is named after Ava Bullard, whose mother Anna Bullard of Lyons, posted a YouTube video describing her family's experience raising a child with autism. Bullard and other Georgia advocates have helped rally support for the introduction of this year's bill. Georgia is one of just 18 states yet to enact autism insurance reform.
"We commend Representative Harbin for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Georgia families," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. "Autism Speaks joins Georgia's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB.309 and join the growing majority of states, including Florida and South Carolina, that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism."
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 bill would take effect 60 days after passage.
Joining Harbin as co-sponsors of the bill were:
- Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City)
- Katie Dempsey (R-Rome)
- Nikki Randall (D-Macon)
- Jay Neal (R-LaFayette)
- Paul Battles (R-Cartersville)