Push to make life-changing autism treatment available to all Virginians

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Life-changing therapy could soon be available for every Virginian with autism.

Lawmakers are working to make it happen.

Right now, insurance companies only have to cover treatment for autism in children between the ages of 2 and 10.

New legislation introduced Tuesday would lift that age cap and make it accessible for everyone.

The change would save Gary and Kate Fletcher thousands of dollars. Their three sons with autism all undergo therapy.

“It just has made a world of difference for our family,” explains G. Fletcher.

When the Midlothian couple’s oldest son Matthew turned 11, insurance no longer paid for his treatments.

“When Matthew turned 11, he still had autism,” says his mom, “So it would be nice to see that continuation of services so that he can continue on the successes that he’s already gained.”

Adds Delegate Bob Thomas who sponsored House Bill 2577, “No other health impairment has such age limits imposed on them and we believe that autism should be treated no differently.”

The Republican lawmaker says changing the law would help 10,000 people across the Commonwealth get access to autism treatment.

“This is a big day for the autism community. We are ecstatic,” says Mark Liobell. 

His 14-year-old grandson is on the spectrum. Liobell is the founder of the Virginia Autism Foundation.

“All of these children have the ability to learn, to laugh, to love, to live a productive life just like we do,” insists Liobell, “What we ask for is that we give them the opportunity to get the services they need.”

It’s estimated that autism impacts one in 59 children so the legislation could have a huge impact on families across the Commonwealth.

The bill isn’t a done deal but the lawmakers behind it believe it will pass.

It will go before the House Commerce and Labor Committee within the next few weeks.

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