Families react to autism bill passing Alabama Senate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Families react to autism bill passing Alabama Senate

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

Parents and some lawmakers are celebrating the autism bill passing the Alabama Senate 31-1. Now it’s headed back to the House, which passed the bill earlier this year 100-0.

If signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, the bill will require many insurance companies to cover autism therapy.

READ MORE: Alabama Senate votes to mandate autism coverage

One local mom, Ashley Sparks, is especially happy. Her daughter, Brinley, has autism. But as happy as she is to see the progress, Sparks said there's plenty more to do for families who love and care for autistic children.

“Like I said, we’ve won a key battle. But the war’s not over. My child has some hope in a year and a half. There are some children with immediate coverage, but not all,” Sparks said.

Sparks is talking about the bill’s concessions. People who own or work for small businesses of 50 people or less aren't covered by private insurance. And the bill caps coverage after people turn 18 years old.

"It’s is a huge step in the right direction. It’s our foot in the door. It’s the cornerstone being laid,” Sparks said. “But no, until every child has access to what mine has access to, I won't stop fighting. There's 50,000 kids like her and they all deserve it, every single one of them."

One family that won’t be getting coverage this year includes the Stewarts. They’ve been big advocates for the bill. But because they own the Pants Barn, a small business in Meridianville, they aren’t eligible for coverage. Their business is one that employs less than 50 people, so insurance companies will not be required to cover their child Eli’s therapy.

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

“We're going to fight. We’re going to fight again for as long as we have to do it,” said Summer Stewart. “My child needs it as much as any other child. I think a lot of us think it's not fair, but this is a stepping stone. It can be updated. We can fix it. But this is a starting point."

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