With the Governor’s signature of HB2693, West Virginia recently became the 25th state to require insurance coverage for autism. As previously reported by WVP, the bill will force insurance companies to provide up to $30,000 per year for a child over 18 months old diagnosed with autism.
Advocates have been asking for a similar bill for years in the WV legislature and insurance providers have been fighting against such a law equally aggressively. The President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia, the states largest insurance company, claimed that the bill will require too broad of coverage and has concerns whenever a new requirement would add to the cost of insurance for consumers. Advocates and families of autistic children, however, are quite pleased. Kathy Shapell, Executive Director of Augusta Learning Center in Wheeling, said that “It really means the world to our families,” and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin claimed that “It really means a whole lot for them to know that there will be help coming.”
The bill will come into effect July 1, 2011 and insurance companies must meet all requirements of the bill by January 1, 2012. WV House Delegates Fleischauer, Ellem, Overington, Hunt, Skaff, Lane, and Rodighiero sponsored this bill; click their names to view other bills that they individually introduced this congressional session.