For the past year News 3 has been following the fight over "Ava's Law". The name was changed to the "Kid's Care Act" when it was partnered with the medical marijuana bill. The act would require state health care plans to provide insurance for children with autism. But that means raising insurance costs for all Georgians.
Thursday night was the final night of the session. Since the act never came up to vote in the House before the midnight deadline, it is dead. There are no more chances and no extensions for this session.
This loss is a devastating blow to a six year long fight to get Autism treatments covered for families like the Smiths. Fawn Smith and her husband have a lot riding on the "Kid's Care Act".
Their four year old son Nathan suffers from Autism. And since Autism treatments are not covered by insurance, they've been paying out of pocket.
"We weren't sure how we were going to afford it because it's insanely expensive. So we just sat down one night and said whatever it takes we'll do. And if that means we'll work more or give up luxuries, we'll do that. And we spent over $12,000 in therapy the first year," Fawn Smith said.
"Ava's Law" is named for Ava Bullard, of Lyons. Ava is the capitol's nine year old poster child for Autism. She was greatly helped by her intensive treatments that were also paid for out of pocket. Her mother Anna Bullard has been the spear heading force behind this bill.
"We don't want them to have to leave to move to Colorado. Families with Autism are moving to Texas because they do provide the coverage there. We want families to be able to live here in Georgia," Bullard said.
Georgia is one of 16 states that doesn't require insurers to cover treatment for the 30,000 Autistic children in the Peach State. However, South Carolina has required it at an average cost of 32 cents per person per month for coverage.
The insurance industry opposes Ava's Law. A version of the bill was proposed last year but it failed because concerns about the high cost and questionable effectiveness of the treatments.
"Therapy for children should not be based on how much the parent can pay. If you are paying your insurance premiums, they should be supporting you," Fawn Smith said.
Bullard told News 3 that she won't give up, she'll try again next year.
If the act had passed, the age for coverage would have been capped at six years old and $35,000 a year.
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