AL Senate votes to mandate autism coverage - Montgomery Alabama news.

AL Senate votes to mandate autism coverage

The Alabama Senate has voted to mandate autism coverage (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) The Alabama Senate has voted to mandate autism coverage (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)

Alabama's autism bill was approved by the senate in a 33-1 vote Tuesday, meaning children with autism in the state could soon be covered for treatment.

The bill still has to be approved a second time, with changes the senate made.

The bill sponsor Rep. Jim Patterson, a Republican from Madison County, says the house plans to do just that and have the governor sign the bill into law.

"And for a change, we did what the people wanted instead of what special interested wanted. That's powerful. The people had a victory today," said Patterson.

The one vote against the bill was Budget Chair Sen. Trip Pittman, a Republican from Baldwin County.

"We're passing a new mandate that is going to cost the state tens of millions of dollars. To me, you're getting the cart before the horse," said Pittman.

Pittman is concerned that the bill is a mandate the state doesn't have the money for, but Patterson says a line needs to be drawn.

"I'm a small government guy, but you can't get by with no government, and without mandates, you're not going to get anything done," Patterson said.

If signed into law, the bill would instantly mandate autism insurance coverage in the private sector for large companies, while state agencies like PEEHIP and Medicaid would have one year to phase in coverage, a coverage which Patterson believes will help those who need it 

"I think you're going to see kids go to college that wouldn't. I think he has the kids graduate high school that wouldn't and we are going to see kids take care of themselves that may have been institutionalized he's people over the spectrum and they're all going to move up," said Patterson.

Patterson says after the bill is passed the governor will sign it, potentially in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon. 

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