Jackson, Miss. — Despite strong opposition by Tea Party conservatives, Mississippi State Senate approved a new bill that would require insurance providers to cover treatments needed by children with autism.
The state’s Senate Bill 2581 was approved with a 39-6 vote.
The newly approved bill will require insurance coverage for children with autism ages two to eight, for treatments necessary to their condition including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. The legislation also regulates the practice of ABA therapies in the state, requiring ABA therapy providers to secure state licenses before they are allowed to practice in Mississippi.
Senators who do not support the new bill likened the new legislation to Obamacare, challenging other senators endorsing the bill to impose the same mandate on attention deficit disorders, diabetes and obesity.
State Senator Will Longwitz told:
“I would ask you today if we’re going to have an ideological battle. Let’s not do it at the expense of children with autism.”
A legislation nearly identical to Senate Bill 2581 was approved without any resistance in January. The only difference between the two bills is that the new legislation does not only encourage insurance providers to broaden autism coverage, they are required to do it. This minor change on the legislation clause has greatly divided both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, but the bill was still approved, nonetheless.