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Bill proposes raising Georgia’s autism coverage cap

Legislation to raise the mandatory age cap for autism insurance coverage from 6 to 21 years of age has won the backing of Senate leadership, led by Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford.

Senate Bill 118 will be introduced next week but still faces an uphill battle at the Capitol, where insurance and business advocates have long opposed expanding mandates they say can be costly. Unterman, however, said she is ready to battle, noting that Gov. Nathan Deal over the past few years has also backed broader coverage.

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Deal last month unveiled a record $25 billion state budget proposal for fiscal 2018 that included a plan to put $20.8 million toward autism services for children on Medicaid. In 2014, he also added autism coverage for employees’ children on the state health plan.

The Senate push comes two years after the chamber won a compromise with passage of the state’s original mandate requiring private insurers to cover autism services for children up to the age of 6. Advocates are scheduled later this month to hold their annual “Autism Day” to lobby at the state Capitol.

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