AL families fight for bill that would help cover autism therapy - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL families fight for bill that would help cover autism therapy costs

Alabama families facing autism want House Bill 284 passed to help cover therapy. (Source: WAFF) Alabama families facing autism want House Bill 284 passed to help cover therapy. (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

Right now, countless families in Alabama are fighting to pass an autism bill. House Bill 284 would require insurance coverage for autism therapy.

"ABA therapy is Applied Behavior Analysis. It helps promote self awareness and to help kids be more independent," said Summer Stewart, the mother of an autistic 5-year-old.

Right now, she and her husband, Brian, are fighting for that therapy to be covered by insurance and Medicaid in Alabama.

It’s a bill to mandate that only has a few more days to get out of the Legislature.

As of now, Alabama is one of only four states to not mandate health insurance coverage for specialized behavioral therapy. Because of that, Summer and Brian say they pay $1,200 to $1,500 per month for Eli’s therapy. They told WAFF 48 News that they were forced to sell their home and rely on family and friends for help.

Still, the Stewarts say ABA has been a lifesaver for Eli and for their family. They say Eli’s communication skills have improved leaps and bounds thanks to ABA.

"We're behind. Alabama is behind. We're coming in last and we shouldn't be. We should be helping our children. This should be a top priority," said Summer Stewart.

The bill will go before a committee on Wednesday. It’s the next hurdle of the bill landing on the Senate floor for a vote. There's a time crunch, though. There only a few days left in the legislative session.

"We just feel like if it doesn't pass, these children are going to get left behind. We'll have to wait another year for it to get to the process its at now," Summer Stewart said.

"We've seen what ABA does and that's why we're so passionate about this bill passing. We've seen what it does and there's thousands of other children out there who need this,” Brian Stewart said.

Opponents to this bill, such as some insurance companies; special interests and businesses say rates and premiums would go up as a result of the bill passing.

Click here to read the full bill.

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