Thanks to the hard work of a number of people we finally have autism insurance reform in the Commonwealth of Virginia! Thanks to everyone involved, especially the Virginia Autism Project and the advocacy arm of Autism Speaks. Thanks also go out to all the senators and delegates who voted for it, especially Senator Howell and Delegate Greason for sponsoring the bills in their respective assemblies. Finally, thank you to Governor McDonnell for signing it rather than exercising his veto power.

This has been a long journey. Parents first began approaching their legislators on this 11 years ago. I don’t want anyone to think this is the perfect bill or that it does everything the community needs it to do. It isn’t and it doesn’t. This is, however a good start. Texas passed similar legislation and raised the age limit within 3 years. Hopefully we can have the same sort of success.

What I really want to do in this post is give folks the opportunity and reminder to thank their representatives who voted for this. I also want people to see how their representatives voted on this issue. See, this issue is one of the few that makes the special interests really easy to see. If your representative voted against this, check his or her campaign donations for health insurance contributors. I’ll bet you find some.

That said, I want to thank both of my local representatives, Senator Edd Houck and Delegate Bobby Orrock. Gentlemen, I appreciate your support in this difficult issue, and I assure both of you that you have my vote. If I can manage it, I will even contribute to your campaigns. You both realized, when presented with the facts, that this is not an issue that hurts small business, nor an issue that damages the economy. This is an issue that simply forces insurance companies to do what they should have been doing all along: paying the legal and reasonable claims that were submitted to them to cover some of the most vulnerable and deserving elements of the population. As evidenced by your respective parties, since Mr. Houck is a democrat and Mr. Orrock a republican, this is a bipartisan issue. Autism doesn’t care if you are conservative or liberal. It affects people with all points of view, races, creeds and nationalities.

Governor McDonnell did offer amendments which pushed back the effective date by 6 months. However, as they were primarily licensing amendments for the BCBAs, or the folks who administer ABA therapy, it could be construed that he was simply trying to ensure that our kids are treated by licensed professionals. One amendment offered by the Governor was defeated by both the Senate and the House. That amendment would have nullified the bill if a court found the dollar cap on services unconstitutional.

As it stands now, the bill will take effect on July 1, 2013 and will mandate coverage for autism therapies, specifically speech, OT and ABA for children ages 2 to 6. There is a $35,000 annual cap on benefits, and does not mandate coverage for self insured companies or companies with 50 employees or less.

The full list of the final votes is below. You can verify this information at the General Assembly’s website using the Legislative Information System. The information below is reposted from that site.

Senate Bill 1062:

YEAS–Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Saslaw, Stosch, Stuart, Ticer, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Whipple–28.

NAYS–Barker, Hanger, Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Newman, Obenshain, Reynolds, Smith, Stanley, Watkins–11.

RULE 36–0.


House Bill 2467:

YEAS–Abbott, Albo, Alexander, Anderson, Armstrong, Athey, BaCote, Barlow, Brink, Bulova, Carr, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, M.K., Dance, Ebbin, Englin, Filler-Corn, Garrett, Greason, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., Hugo, Ingram, James, Janis, Johnson, Keam, Kilgore, Knight, Kory, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, May, McClellan, McQuinn, Merricks, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Morgan, Morrissey, O’Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Phillips, Plum, Poindexter, Pollard, Purkey, Putney, Rust, Scott, J.M., Sherwood, Shuler, Sickles, Spruill, Stolle, Surovell, Tata, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Ward, Ware, O., Ware, R.L., Watts, Mr. Speaker–73.

NAYS–Abbitt, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Byron, Carrico, Cleaveland, Cline, Cole, Crockett-Stark, Gilbert, Habeeb, Iaquinto, Joannou, Jones, Landes, Lewis, Morefield, Nutter, Peace, Pogge, Robinson, Scott, E.T., Wilt, Wright–24.


NOT VOTING–Cox, J.A., Edmunds–2.

Delegate Cox, J.A. recorded as not voting. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Putney recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.