TN Lawmakers Consider Mandating Insurance Coverage for Autism

(Memphis) Every year more and more families are impacted by Autism.

Many children in Tennessee are getting the cold shoulder from insurance companies.

State lawmakers are trying to change that because Tennessee is one of only a few states that have no laws regulating the insurance coverage of these vulnerable children.

Dayna Pirtle`s daughter Tia is like any other seven-year old who likes to color and play soccer.

But Tia has a challenge most other children her age don’t face, Autism.

“She sings, she recites, and she is a beautiful child.  Her only hold back is spontaneous conversation and the communication back and forth,” said Pirtle.

Tia was diagnosed when she was three turning Pirtle from an average mother to an advocate.

The family made adjustments by labeling everything to help Tia remember.

She also goes to speech therapy.

Those changes cost money, and it’s a cost a lot of insurance companies don’t cover.

“You basically have to educate yourself, and if you don`t educate yourself your lost in a sea of red tape,” said Pirtle.

One in eighty-eight children in the state are diagnosed with Autism so lawmakers in Tennessee are taking action.

Memphis Senator Jim Kyle wants all insurance companies to cover Autism treatment.

The bill requires insurance companies to cover occupational speech and physical therapy for children who have Autism.

Thirty-four states including our neighbors in Arkansas and Mississippi have passed similar pieces of legislation, and I believe that the children of Tennessee deserve to be treated the same as children in neighboring states,” said Kyle.

Kyle says the insurance industry opposes his bill because it requires them to pay for coverage.

He still expects the senate to vote on it sometime this session.

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