New legislation gives Virginians with autism access to better heath coverage

Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 13:16:11-04

RICHMOND, Va. – An age cap on health insurance coverage on autism was removed by state lawmakers, which is expected to positively impact nearly 10,000 Virginians living with autism.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Thursday that will allow older Virginians with autism to gain better access to health insurance coverage.

According to state officials, the bills, sponsored by Senator Jill Vogel and Delegate Robert “Bob” Thomas, will ensure all individuals with autism, no matter their age, have access to adequate health insurance. Current law only requires coverage be provided to individuals between ages two and 10.

“One of my primary motivations for entering public service was finding an avenue to address the frustrations and challenges that I would routinely encounter as a physician trying to help families navigate the insurance landscape,”  Northam said. “Now, individuals with autism will have access to the coverage they need, no matter their age—that will have a profound impact on Virginia families.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have been working on this issue for years and I’m proud to sign this legislation that exemplifies what we can achieve when we come together to improve the lives of the Virginians we serve.”

With autism being the fastest-growing developmental disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), legislation like this will add to other autism legislation passed in 2011 and 2015 that help set the foundation for Thursday’s signing.

“I am so grateful for the legislature’s and Governor’s support of this bill. With passage, we finally give people of all ages with autism spectrum disorder access to health insurance coverage,” Vogel said. “As someone who worked on this legislation for more than 10 years, I have seen the impact on families whose children were cut off from coverage.  We only succeeded this year because of their hard work and unbelievable commitment all of these years.”

Thomas referenced the success of his bill as well, saying that new numbers from the CDC suggest that autism impacts 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Learn more about the legislation passed here.

Related: Autism legislation expanding health insurance coverage in Virginia passes