Legislation requiring insurance companies to cover autism treatments passes in the state Senate.
An estimated one in every 192 Wisconsin children suffers from autism. State Senator Judy Robson (D-Beloit) says denying them access to treatment is just cruel. She says Wisconsin should join the states that require insurance providers to cover autism treatments in their plans, as they would any other medical illness.
Eighteen other states have already enacted similar legislation, but State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) says the Wisconsin proposal is the most extreme mandate in the country. He says it will to budget and insurance premium increases that total over $75 million.
Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says the bill gives the families of autistic children false hope, because it's not likely to pass in the Assembly.
Lawmakers rejected two amendments to the bill Tuesday that would have shifted the focus to the state's existing waiver program, which helps families cover the cost of intensive autism treatments. Republicans argue relieving a waiting list for the waiver is a better way to address the problem in tough financial times.
The Senate approved the measure on a 25-8 vote. It now heads to the Assembly.