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Nebraska bill to require autism coverage advances

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm •  Published: April 9, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A measure requiring insurance companies to offer coverage for autism therapy moved forward Wednesday in the Nebraska Legislature.

The proposal won initial approval after several failed attempts to attach it to other measures in the final days of this year's session. The sponsor, Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln, said earlier this week that he wasn't going to drop the issue even though its prospects looked bleak.

The proposal would allow for up to 25 hours per week of covered therapy until the insured person turns 21 years old. Required coverage would include applied behavioral analysis, a treatment method that has been shown to help autistic children learn to function better. The bill was sent to the full Legislature by a committee last week — as time was running out for the session — amid a push by families with autistic children.

Advocates have estimated that about 1,000 people would benefit from the bill.

"The real heroes in this are the families who are affected by this," Coash said. "These are families who struggle, and they do much more than I've done on this by virtue of the love of their children."

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