RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Parents of autistic children throughout Virginia cleared a major hurdle today when the House of Delegates voted 74-24 to require insurers to provide autism coverage for children ages 2-6. The Virginia Autism Project applauds the House for its historic vote, which may signal then end of a more than decade-long fight for autism coverage in the commonwealth.
An identical bill, sponsored by Senator Janet Howell (Fairfax-D), passed unanimously in the Senate Committee process this week.
The proposed legislation, which would provide medically necessary therapies for children with autism between the ages of 2 thru 6, is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor next week. Passage of this legislation would be a historic milestone in Virginia. The earliest attempts to pass a measure for covering developmental delays dated back to Senate Bill 165 in 2000. Broader measures have also failed in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"For years, families of children with autism have been caught in an endless struggle with insurance companies for coverage of autism treatments and therapies," Pat DiBari, President of the Virginia Autism Project said following the historic vote. "Thanks to this historic vote, Virginia families are one step closer to receiving the coverage they so vitally need."
Studies have shown that early intervention produces optimal outcomes for children with autism. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 110 children is now diagnosed with autism. Autism occurs across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, with diagnosis impacting boys 4 to 5 times as often as girls. In Virginia, the rates of autism are increasing 15-18% per year. "Autism is an epidemic that we can no longer ignore," stated Delegate Greason during the debate on the House floor. "The time has come and gone to do something for those families whose lives have been turned upside down by this devastating disorder."
For more information, see http://www.virginiaautismproject.org and join us on Facebook.
SOURCE Virginia Autism Project