Autism Society of Alabama member says autism insurance bill is moving forward

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - After being stalled in the Senate, HB 284's future is looking bright. It's a piece of legislation that would require health insurers to cover an intensive autism therapy.

On Monday, lawmakers announced the bill stalled in the Senate after passing unanimously in the House.

"In the last few days, things have changed and now there will be a committee meeting tomorrow [Thursday] morning in Montgomery at 9 o'clock," said Todd Tomerlin with the Autism Society of Alabama.

The news is a sense of relief for many families with a tie to autism.

"It's really exciting, I'm just really excited," said Tomerlin. "This is the closest we've ever been and we've been working on this for several years."

If passed and signed into law, the bill would include insurance coverage for applied behavioral analysis--a primary treatment for children with autism.

According to the autism organization, Autism Speaks, 45 states cover behavioral therapy.

"For a parent who's never had a child speak and then have this therapy administered, and be able to hear those words...it's just incredible," said Tomerlin.

Many supporters say this bill's benefits outshine any negatives.

"Our goal as a parent, obviously, is to get them as independent as possible and hopefully have a job and be able to sustain and work in the community," said Tomerlin. "We have to get them as close to that as we can...and without this therapy, it's just very hard to do."

Those who oppose the bill argue coverage would drive insurance premiums up to the point that some businesses could not afford coverage.