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Navicent Health Urges Support for Autism Bill

Pediatric Outpatient Rehab, Atrium Health Navicent Hopes Bill made Law will Assist Local Families

MACON, GA (Tuesday, February 24, 2015) - In one of its first moves in the new year, the Georgia State Senate passed a bill requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for autism therapies for children under the age of six. The bill - Senate Bill 1, or "Ava's Law" - passed unanimously with a 54-0 vote.

"Early intervention can help children with autism overcome developmental delays and can lower later healthcare costs," said Deborah Ryan, Coordinator of Pediatric Outpatient Rehab, Atrium Health Navicent. Ava's Law would require up to $35,000 in coverage for autism services, but would not apply to companies with 10 or fewer employees. The bill now faces consideration in Georgia's House of Representatives, where a similar bill failed to pass in 2014.

Ava's Law will have a hearing before the House Insurance Committee on Wednesday, February 25. Atrium Health Navicent urges central Georgians to contact the representatives and ask that they support Ava's Law.

"If lawmakers pass Senate Bill 1, they will be providing our children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis with increased access to physical, occupational and speech therapies. The passage of this bill will allow parents to better meet the needs of their child without the financial burden being placed on the family," said Ryan.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network estimates that 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Autism shows no regard for race, ethnicity or socioeconomic group, but is almost five times more likely in boys than in girls. The CDC estimates that 1 in 42 boys will show signs of autism, while 1 in 189 girls may be affected. Pediatric Outpatient Rehab, Atrium Health Navicent serves approximately 54 pediatric autistic patients per week with physical, occupational and speech therapies. Ryan stated that the program is in the process of growing in order to meet the demands of the local community.