Senate passes bill requiring insurance coverage for autism treatments

Associated PressFebruary 23, 2012 

JUNEAU -- The Alaska Senate has passed a bill requiring insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders.

SB74 passed 14-5 Wednesday. Minority Leader John Coghill served notice of reconsideration, meaning the bill could be voted on again before going to the House.

Coghill was among the dissenting votes. He had tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to replace the coverage mandate.

Sen. Johnny Ellis, the bill's lead sponsor, said the amendment would render the bill essentially toothless. The measure would require insurance coverage for medically necessary treatments for autism, like speech and physical therapies. Ellis said the bill will help children and keep families together, easing the financial strain that families now face in getting treatments for autistic children.

At least 13 of the Senate's 20 members have signed onto the measure.

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