Opponents, however, said it risks increasing health insurance premiums across Georgia. House leaders had fought the bill for years, arguing it would hurt small businesses that provide insurance coverage for employees. But in the waning days of the 2015 legislative session, they and Senate leaders reached a compromise.
It ended a years-long struggle by parents and advocacy groups to gain a level of coverage offered in many other states. At the time the Georgia mandate passed, 38 states were already requiring coverage of autism, including behavioral health treatment sought by parents here.
State law now requires insurance companies to provide up to $30,000 a year of coverage for children age 6 and under. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are exempt. Insurers are exempt from having to cover autism if they can verify it would raise all premiums by more than 1 percent.