AUSTIN (May 20, 2013) -- The Texas House of Representatives approved and sent Gov. Rick Perry a bill that would eliminate age caps for receiving autism insurance benefits. Perry signed the 2007 bill that made Texas just the third state nationally to enact autism insurance reform, then a second bill in 2009 that raised the age cap from 5 to 9.
The current law requires state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as well as speech, occupational and physical therapy.
Sponsored by Senators Kirk Watson of Austin, Wendy Davis of Forth Worth and Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville, SB.1484 would take effect in September and limit annual ABA benefits to $36,000 for children aged 10 and above. Children must be diagnosed with autism by the age of 10 to gain the coverage.
The House champions for the bill included Rep. Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston.
Texas is one of four states with existing autism insurance reform laws that has considered bills to expand coverage this year. A fifth state, New Mexico, has already enacted a new law expanding its coverage to public employees. Last year, Louisana, Vermont, Virginia and Rhode Island all took action to expand coverage under their existing laws.
The Minnesota Legislature has sent Gov. Mark Dayton a bill that would make Minnesota the 33rd state to enact autism insurance reform. Dayton is expected to sign the bill shortly.