RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation to make life-changing therapy available for every Virginian with autism, no matter their age.
Current law only requires insurance companies to cover treatment for autism in children between the ages of 2 and 10. But Senate Bill 1693 and House Bill 2577 remove the age cap, expanding that coverage to nearly 10,000 Virginians living with autism.
The new law takes effect on January 1, 2010.
“One of my primary motivations for entering public service was finding an avenue to address the frustrations and challenges that I would routinely encounter as a physician trying to help families navigate the insurance landscape,” said Governor Northam. “Now, individuals with autism will have access to the coverage they need, no matter their age—that will have a profound impact on Virginia families. Both Democrats and Republicans have been working on this issue for years and I’m proud to sign this legislation that exemplifies what we can achieve when we come together to improve the lives of the Virginians we serve.”
“I am so grateful for the legislature’s and Governor’s support of this bill. With passage, we finally give people of all ages with autism spectrum disorder access to health insurance coverage,” said Senator Jill Vogel. “As someone who worked on this legislation for more than ten years, I have seen the impact on families whose children were cut off from coverage. We only succeeded this year because of their hard work and unbelievable commitment all of these years.”
“The CDC now estimates that Autism impacts 1 in 59 children in our country, a number that is growing at 15 percent per year,” said Delegate Bob Thomas. “We should continue to do everything we can to learn about the causes, but as a father of eight, I know just how important ensuring our children have access to quality healthcare is. After years of advocacy by the autism community and the families who care for autistic loved ones, I am proud to lift the age cap for coverage to help thousands of Virginians get access to needed healthcare.”