Ivey signs autism bill into law Back to All Articles »

Andrew J Yawn
Montgomery Advertiser

Gov. Kay Ivey signed the autism insurance bill into law Friday at the Capitol, and afterward she was embraced by a few of the thousands of children the law will support.

Despite a late session effort to stymie the autism bill, it unanimously pushed through the House about 2 a.m. Thursday. Some concessions were made including an age cap and an exemption for business employing 50 people or fewer, but the law will make access to care easier for children on the spectrum whose applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy will be covered by health insurance until the age of 18.

"This means a lot for us and anyone dealing with autism and the impact it has on families," Carter said after the bill signing. "The real problem wasn't just the cost. It's that there was no marketplace. ABA therapists wouldn't come to Alabama."

With the passage of the bill – sponsored by Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, and carried by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, and Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn – insurance coverage for ABA therapy for autistic people can no longer ignored by Alabama health care providers.

Despite a contentious session highlighted by redistricting debate, Whatley called the bill a "bright spot" of the session. Ward called Friday's signing a "historic occasion."

"There have been so many families waiting for so long to get this kind of coverage," Ward said. "They've been fighting for years and years. To see Alabama step up and do this was the right thing, but it was also bipartisan, which you rarely see these days."