ATLANTA— Chairman Charlie Bethel and Richard Smith announced at a joint press conference at the Georgia State Capitol that a deal has been reached to pass autism insurance reform SB 1, better known as Ava’s Law, which had been held up in the House Insurance Committee. If passed and signed, Georgia could become the 41st state in the country to pass reforms that require coverage for autism related medical services.
“Today’s announcement on autism insurance is a victory for thousands of children with autism living across Georgia who would receive the medical treatment they deserve under Ava’s Law. We are grateful to both the Senate and House for passing this important legislation. Once signed into law, it will make a difference for so many families struggling to access affordable care for their loved ones,” said Judith Ursitti director of state government affairs at Autism Speaks.
The announcement was made after grassroots activists across the state took to social media and put in thousands of calls, emails and visits, leadership announced a deal had been struck.
“After seven years, I am ecstatic that Georgia children with autism will finally have the coverage they need. Thank you to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Senator Charlie Bethel and Rep. Richard Smith for working to find a path forward in Georgia,” said Anna Bullard, mother of Ava Bullard for whom the law is named.
Both chairmen indicated the law would go into effect later this year after being voted on in the Senate which already passed the non-amended version unanimously earlier this year. The end of the legislative session is on April 2 and coincides with Light It Up Blue, an international awareness campaign that kicks off Autism Awareness Month.