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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hillary Clinton plan calls for Florida to mandate autism coverage



Hillary Clinton wants to require Florida and other states to require insurers to cover autism treatment, part of a plan to address the disorder she will unveil Tuesday in Iowa.

“A major challenge for many families impacted by autism is the often unaffordable cost of treatment,” the Democrat said in a statement provided to the Tampa Bay Times. “While most states require private health insurance plans in their state-based exchange to cover the autism services, Florida does not. As President, I would work with leaders in Florida to remedy this situation as quickly as possible. This is a sensible, cost-effective way to show that Florida stands with families across the state that are coping everyday with autism."

The campaign cited statistics showing 28,064 children between 3 and 21 in Florida have autism.

Coincidentally, autism was the final issue Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio dealt with as Florida House speaker in 2008. Rubio and a united House pushed for a broader plan but he yielded to the Senate rather than upend the session. (see below for Rubio’s speech and grim expressions of his colleagues.)

The Senate plan, championed by Democrat Steve Geller, mandated insurers cover autism. But insurers in the state’s exchange under Obamacare are exempt. Clinton’s campaign said more than 30 states require the coverage under exchanges. "Clinton’s plan calls on Florida to make this coverage a requirement for all plans offered in their state-run health insurance exchange," according to the campaign.

Her proposal also calls for:

- A nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism. 

- An “Autism Works Initiative” to extend new resources and establish public-private partnerships that will ensure a post-graduation transition plan for every student with autism aging out of school-based services.

- Enacts the “Keeping All Students Safe Act” to protect children from abusive practices in their school by banning bans the use of mechanical and chemical restraints, and physical restraints that restrict breathing; and other reforms to protect children with autism from abusive treatment in the schools.

- Would direct HHS, the Department of Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service to enforce mental health parity to their full authority in their respective spheres in any states that fall short.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 1:02am]


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