Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation Tuesday afternoon that guarantees insurance companies will cover young children with autism by the end of the year.
Families with autistic children between ages two and six were already supposed to be covered after McDonnell approved a bill last year mandating it. But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli insisted the bill, as written, failed to accomplish that goal.
Emergency revisions easily passed both chambers last month. Still, it will be awhile before insurance providers are required to cover those kids. The bill gives the state Board of Medicine 280 days to write guidelines for behavior analysts who work with autistic children.
That means the new rules will likely go into affect a full year after families were expecting when the bill was signed last spring. In the meantime parents have to choose between treatment for their young, developing children and high medical bills.
Some lawmakers wanted to adopt federal guidelines in the interim as state officials decided on their own, but McDonnell’s administration nixed that plan.
“After years of hard work and coordination, hundreds of children will finally get the help they need to make a real difference in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders,” said Del. Tag Greason, R-Loudoun, the bill’s author.