ALBANY, N.Y. -- A major stride made Monday at the state capital, with New York one step closer, to requiring health plans that would provide medical coverage for families with autistic children.
Under New York State's current insurance and public health law, insurance companies are not required to provide coverage for families with autistic children. That's despite a growing number of children diagnosed.
But Monday, a state senate insurance committee voted to amend that law, making way for a proposal some are calling the strongest bill for autism insurance in the country.
"We will never ever give up hope, but it's life altering," says Michael Giangregorio.
Michael Giangregorio's son Nicholas was diagnosed with autism six years ago, and has since been receiving services to help him learn to function as typically as possible, services that cost Giangregorio $87,000.
"How do you not do whatever you need to do to provide for your child when you see results," says Giangregorio.
However, soon insurance could help cover some of the tremendous costs. During a senate insurance committee hearing, legislators voted to amend the insurance law for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
If the bill is passed, insurance coverage will be provided for the screening and diagnosis of autism, with no age or dollar cap. The treatment of autism will also be covered, as long as it is medically necessary and clinically proven.
Senator Roy McDonald has two grandchildren of his own with autism.
"Is there a perfect solution? No," says McDonald. "A perfect legislative bill? No. But we'll improve as we go along. We've got to do something, and we've got to do it now."
For parents like Giangregorio, the work done today will have a huge impact on his child's future.
"The biggest fear with a parent and autism, is what happens when you die?" says Giangregorio. "Who will advocate for your child? Knowing my son will have insurance throughout his life eases one burden."
However, there are opponents of providing this insurance. They worry as the nation's health care system stands now it could force insurance companies to increase their premiums and ultimately force the un-insured population to rise. The bill will go before an assembly committee on Wednesday.
Legislators expect it to be on the Governor's desk before the end of the session.
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