The Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Commerce and Labor unanimously voted on Tuesday to pass HB2577 which lifts the age cap on autism health coverage. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, where it is supported by Chairman Chris Jones.
“This is a great first step to ensuring 10,000 Virginians on the autism spectrum get access to needed healthcare,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “Studies show that many children are not diagnosed until they are already six or seven years old. I believe these children deserve to have access to needed care for longer than just 3 or 4 years.”
Currently, state law only says that health insurers must offer such coverage for individuals from age 2 through age 10. According to a January, 2013 report from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center of Excellence, the average age of diagnosis in Virginia is between six and seven years of age. This means for many diagnosed, they could only have three years of covered treatment before coverage could be limited.
“I want to thank my colleagues who sit on the Commerce and Labor Committee for the attention they gave to this important piece of legislation,” said Delegate Bob Thomas (R-Stafford), the patron of HB2577. “No other prevalent health condition including– asthma, diabetes and cancer– has coverage limits imposed based on the age of the patient, and I believe age limits do not belong on coverage for autism.