House passes long-stalled autism insurance bill

Posted September 28, 2015

— Insurance plans would have to cover certain treatments for autism under a long-stalled bill that cleared the state House Monday night.

Measures like Senate Bill 676 have been popular in the House over the past four years, passing several times with overwhelming support only to stall in the Senate. This year, senators agreed to move an autism insurance bill, seemingly ensuring its passage in June.

Coverage would be capped at $40,000 per year and would be covered for children only through their 18th birthday, limitations advocacy groups had agreed to. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer, had signed off on the bill.

But there was a last-minute disagreement over how the bill was worded and whether or not it would jibe with federal parity laws for mental health.

For three months, the measure has sat untouched in the House Rules Committee. As the session draws to a close, with adjournment due this week, lawmakers and lobbyists backing the measure have worked to get it moving again.

Late Monday, House Speaker Tim Moore pulled the measure out of the Rules Committee and put it before the full House for a vote. An amendment put forward by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, addressed the health care parity question.

"It's really important that we adopt a bill and put this in place because the early treatment of autism makes all the difference in the world," McGrady said.

The measure passed 103-6. It is now returning to the Senate for its final legislative approval. McGrady said that senators had agreed to the changes made by the House.


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  • tabdjb Sep 29, 2015

    This helps the families of children with autism, but what about the rest of the families with special needs children? I don't see a bill covering the cost of therapies and equipment for kids with cerebral palsy or spina bifida.

  • Melissa Noderer Sep 29, 2015
    user avatar

    At last, a bill that has compassion for families struggling financially due limited insurance coverage for children with autism.