This afternoon, the Virginia Autism Project joined families and communities in Virginia in applauding Governor Robert McDonnell in signing House Bill 2467 and Senate Bill 1062, which will become law effective January 1, 2012. This new law requires insurance companies to provide evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies for children ages 2 thru 6 with a $35,000 annual cap. Sponsored by Senator Janet Howell (Fairfax-D) and Delegates Tim Hugo (Fairfax-R), Tom Rust (Fairfax/Loudoun-R), and Tag Greason (Loudoun-R), this reform passed the General Assembly with overwhelming support last month after 11 years of failed attempts.
“HB 2467 and SB 1062 are the culmination of over 11 years of legislative work, and countless hours of effort put forth by the parents and advocates in support of Autism,” said Delegate Greason. “This legislation delicately balances the needs of our families with the struggles that employers throughout the Commonwealth are faced with. It is the right thing to do, and I am proud to be a small part of the process.”
“Virginia communities are celebrating this historic legislation to provide young children medical treatments for Autism! We owe tremendous thanks to Governor McDonnell and the many legislative patrons and leaders of Virginia, past and present, that have made this day possible. This is a great step forward to improve comprehensive services for children with autism in Virginia,” said Pat DiBari, president of the Virginia Autism Project.
The Virginia Autism Project, partnered with Autism Speaks and parents of children with autism in the Commonwealth, began working on legislation to require insurance coverage for medical treatment for autism years ago. In reports released over the past few years, the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) acknowledge that insurance coverage is only a part of the comprehensive services required to address the unique challenges of all age groups with autism. While pursuing a smooth implementation of this new law, the Virginia Autism Project also intends to advocate for an increase in the Medicaid waiver services for individuals with developmental disabilities.