Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon: ‘Legislature listened to the people’ in approving autism, midwives bills

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- House Speaker Mac McCutcheon presided in the House during the contentious debates about new prison construction and redistricting and he was a key voice in advising Gov. Robert Bentley to resign.

But amid the turmoil, he says two underdog bills from the recently completed session stand out.

“One was the autism bill,” McCutcheon said. “That’s something that was a heavy lift for legislators. And the other thing was the midwife issue. We handled that issue for several years.”

The autism measure required Alabama insurers to provide autism therapy for children.

The midwifery bill sought to allow certified midwives to handle delivery in a routine pregnancy. The practice had been barred for more than 40 years, reported. 

Both measures had powerful opposition from insurance companies and business and medical groups. But the bill’s supporters were also determined and active.

After some significant changes, including capping the age of autism patients eligible for benefits at 18 and not requiring coverage to begin in some plans until the end of 2018, the bills passed both legislative chambers.

It wasn’t easy.

“And to be able to address both of those and set all of the powers-that-be aside, and say ‘Hey, these are important to a lot of people in Alabama, we need to address ‘em.’ I think was significant myself,” McCutcheon said.

“Because to me it seemed to send the message to the people that says, ‘Hey, we are listening, it’s not big business running Montgomery. We’re listening to the people and their needs.’”

Those were bright moments, McCutcheon said, during a sometimes bruising session in Montgomery,

“And I think it was just one of those good moments to where the Legislature listened to the people.”

Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the autism bill. She has not signed the midwifery bill.