JACKSON, MS (February 4, 2014) -- A pair of Mississippi legislative committees completed action on the 2014 autism insurance reform bill, clearing the way for a House floor vote. The votes marked the most progress ever for autism insurance reform legislation in Mississippi.
The Mississippi House Appropriations Committee approved HB.542, which would require coverage of the screening, diagnosis and treatment, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), of autism for state employees and teachers. The bill was then referred back to the House Insurance Committee which gave its approval, clearing the way for a final vote in the House.
"Autism Speaks thanks Rep. Herb Frierson [left], the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, for acting so quickly with our bill," said Shelley Hendrix, Autism Speaks' director of grassroots advocacy. "Working with our prime House sponsor, Rep. Steve Massengill, we look forward to House passage of our bill."
The Mississippi Senate has yet to take action on the its version of the bill, SB.2679. As introduced, the legislation would take effect July 1 if enacted. The Mississippi State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan covers 31,000 enrollees
In addition to ABA treatment, the bill would require coverage for autism-related psychiatric, psychological, pharmaceutical and therapeutic care, such as speech, occupational and physical therapy. The bills set no dollar caps or limits on visits.
Mississippi is one of four southern states considering autism insurance reform legislation this year. More than 100 Georgia advocates converged on the statehouse yesterday urging support for Ava's Law, that state's autism insurance reform bill. In Tennessee, legislative action is expected to kick off shortly, while the North Carolina Senate is expected this spring to take up an autism insurance reform bill that passed the House 105-7 last year.