Local politicians, community members fight for autism coverage


Local politicians and community members are fighting for a statewide cause. Autism coverage under insurance companies plans hopes to allow children with autism to be covered under state insurance plans. (WRDW-TV)

Thirty-two states cover autism under insurance plans and Georgia is working to become number 23. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Patrica Hamilton and her son, Lucas, don't have a normal life.

"I cry a lot for him," Hamilton said.

She cries because of the struggle her son goes through every day.

He has autism, but a bigger concern is the lack of insurance covering her son.

"The insurance company -- after giving him therapy for a year -- denied all of his therapies, they said he didn't qualify for them," Hamilton said.

Therapies that help her son live a more normal life. But insurance companies in Georgia aren't required to cover autism under their plans.

That leaves Hamilton and her family with the bill.

"We cannot afford to pay for these therapies, for different therapists, a week out of our pocket," Hamilton said.

Autism bills without insurance coverage run from $30,000 to $50,000 a year.

Local state Rep. Ben Harbin of Evans, Ga., says getting them the help they need is why he is fighting for this.

"If you can get to these children early, early intervention, you can get them the right types of treatments and therapies, they can lead a more normal life," Harbin said.

He was in Atlanta on Monday with local community members and others from across Georgia, pushing for legislature to pass this bill.

"It's gonna be about 32 cents per month increase in premiums," he said.

That amount would allow close to 30,000 children with autism to get the coverage they need.

Thirty-two states cover autism under insurance plans and Georgia is working to become number 23.

"This is about helping the entire state of Georgia, all the children who are diagnosed with autism in this state, helping them get that better quality of life," Harbin said.

A better quality of life that early intervention would give to these children.

Hamilton says she just wants to get her son better.

"We saw a lot of progress through his therapies, but then when they stopped, we started seeing him regress," she said.

But she isn't giving up at all.

"I'm still gonna keep this fight up," Hamilton said.

She says if the bill does pass, she will have something to say to the insurance companies.

"I will be calling them and saying, you know what, I want my therapist back, and you know what, you have to do it," Hamilton said.


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