From Richard Mauer in Juneau —
Is the autism insurance bill dead?
The popular measure, sponsored by a majority of House members, is currently locked up in the House Health and Social Services Committee, where Chairman Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, held a hearing Tuesday but wouldn’t let the bill out.
Rep. Charisse Millett, an Anchorage Republican and one of the sponsors, said she asked Keller in a conversation on the House floor today whether he would move the bill. He told her no.
Millett, who isn’t a member of either the Republican-led majority caucus or the minority Democrats, said there was not much pressure she could apply to pressure Keller to change his mind. But the matter may come up in the Republican caucus Wednesday evening, she said.
“I’m not going to give up,” she said. “I’m not going to give up.”
The measure would require companies that offer health insurance in Alaska to cover claims related to autism, including treatments once considered experimental. The hearing Tuesday had moments of emotion with speakers breaking into tears as they described their family situations.
Others, representing businesses and insurance companies, said the measure would make insurance coverage more expensive for private employers.
The lead sponsor, Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, said a study pegged the average cost at $1.34 a month, but actual claims experience shows it will probably be much less.
Keller said at the Tuesday hearing that the bill has “challenges,” but didn’t explain his objections.