ATLANTA (February 21, 2013) -- In an interview aired last night on NBC 11, Home Depot Co-founder Bernie Marcus said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal assured him he would sign an autism insurance reform bill if sent to him by the legislature.
Reporter Jaye Watson asked Marcus, a member of the Autism Speaks Board, "Did Governor Deal [right] tell you he would support it, that he would try to push it, put in a good word?" Marcus answered, "He said all of those things. He said if the legislature passes it that he would support it and sign the legislation."
A bill called "Ava's Law", (HB.309), has been introduced in the Georgia House by Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans). It would require state-regulated health plans to cover autism-related therapies. The bill is named for Ava Bullard, whose mother Anna, has urged Georgia lawmakers for years to require autism insurance coverage.
Watson's interview with Marcus is part of a weeklong series airing on NBC 11, called The Autism Gap. The station has collected over 4,000 names on petitions urging support for the bill.
Marcus called the lack of of autism insurance "disgraceful" for Georgia. "Thirty-two other states -- Democratic, Republican states, have all voted for this," Marcus said. "Why is Georgia not doing it? It doesn't make sense to me."
Marcus countered arguments by the insurance lobby regarding the cost of covering autism.
"The insurance lobbies obviously don't want to cover it and yet we know the cost is only 32 cents per month per member," he said. "And they're fighting it tooth and nail. I put it into Home Depot years ago and I will tell you, it didn't break Home Depot."