Ariz. Legislature Backs Insurance Mandate for Autism Coverage

March 19, 2008

A bill approved by the Arizona Legislature would mandate insurance coverage for diagnosis and treatment of autism.

A 23-6 Senate vote completed legislative action on the bill (HB2847) previously approved by the House. That sent it to Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The bill was supported by autism support groups and hundreds of parents.

Insurers’ coverage and benefits now vary, but the bill would require group disability insurers and certain other insurers to provide specified types of coverage to eligible people under age 18. Its requirements generally would take effect July 1, 2009.

Several senators who voted against the bill said they didn’t like doing so but were bound by pledges to oppose insurance mandates.

Such mandates can drive up insurance costs for all Arizonans, said Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise.

However, he said, “this vote on the board makes me feel like a monster.”

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