Senate committee approves autism bills

LANSING—A state Senate panel on Thursday approved legislation that would require autism coverage in health insurance policies and create a fund to reimburse health insurers for autism claims.

The measures passed the Senate Health Policy Committee without opposition.

Committee chair Sen. Jim Marleau said the bills would bring autism coverage in Michigan up to the level of other states.

“With this legislation we will join 29 other states in requiring coverage of autism disorders,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “This can significantly help families and children in need of appropriate and effective treatment.”

Senate Bills 414 and 415 would require coverage of autism spectrum disorders in health insurance policies. These disorders include autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

SB 981 would create the “Autism Coverage Incentive Act,” requiring the Michigan Department of Treasury to create a fund to reimburse health insurers for claims paid for autism diagnosis and treatment.

The measures now head to the full Senate for consideration.