Autism Therapy Bill Passes Senate Committee, But May Not Advance

May 11, 2017

A bill requiring insurance companies in the state to pay for autism therapy has passed the Senate budget committee. But the committee chairman is threatening not to advance the bill, as he continues negotiations.

Yesterday, the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee voted 14 to 2 approving a bill that would require insurers to cover applied behavioral analysis therapy. It’s an intensive – and expensive – therapy for children with autism. But Committee Chairman Trip Pittman says he “might not” send the bill to the Senate floor as he continues negotiations. Pittman says he has concerns about the cost of coverage for insurance plans funded by state taxpayers.

As chairman, Pittman has to sign the committee report. Senators Cam Ward and Tom Whatley, both supporters of the bill, have threatened to halt Senate business if Pittman refuses to report it.

Parents of children with autism have been fighting for the coverage for years, but insurers and business groups have opposed a mandate. Recently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama announced they would cover the therapy under certain plans without a mandate.