SALT LAKE CITY — Insurance companies would have to cover autism spectrum disorder under a bill that passed the Utah Senate on Friday.
SB57 requires health benefit plans to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism who is younger than 9 years old and up to $18,000 for children ages 9 to 18 for treatment of the condition.
"We know this is a real disease. We know there is a cure. We're simply asking for insurance coverage," said Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, the bill's sponsor.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said he knows of a young boy who was treated for a broken arm but the insurance company denied coverage because of his autism.
"That is discrimination. If that's how insurance companies act in my district, it's going to change how I feel about insurance mandates," he said.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, was among those who opposed the bill, which passed 17-7. He said he couldn't support a mandate when there isn't money to pay for it.
"I want to fund these people. But I have to take someone else's money in order to fund this program. Where do we draw the line?" he said.
The bill now goes to the House.
— Dennis Romboy
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company