Assembly Approves Autism Bill, Opponents Say Lacks Coverage

This story was written by Charles Brace, The Daily Cardinal
A bill intended to help children with autism passed the state Assembly Thursday, though it is unclear if it will pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session.

The bill passed 55-39, though Republicans and Democrats disagree on the proposal.

Assembly Republicans said their version of the bill would cover 350 children on a state waiting list for autism coverage.

Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, said in a statement Assembly Bill 901 would cover all autistic children in the state. He said it would provide better coverage and not cost as much as the Democratic proposal.

"The facts are these-our plan covers all autistic children, takes effects away, leverages federal funds to reduce the cost to state taxpayers and does not drive up the cost of health care," Huebsch said.

The Democrat-controlled Senate passed a version of the bill recently, but Assembly Republicans said it would cost the state an excessive amount of money.

Gov. Jim Doyle has previously stated that autism insurance coverage was a main part of his health care agenda, but he agreed with Senate Democrats on their version.

The Autism Society of Wisconsin, according to Executive Director Jane Pribek, supports the Senate version of the bill. Pribek said in a statement that the Assembly proposal is not "comprehensive" and a "band-aid approach to funding a crisis."

Pribek said a long-term solution was needed for autistic children in the state.
© 2008 The Daily Cardinal via U-WIRE