Insurance coverage for autism in the state of Wisconsin moved a big step closer to becoming a reality last night.
I've been keeping up a running update on the progress of the initiative at my February 19 post, which was when JoyDad did his public hearing testimony.
Recap in a nutshell - this is now the second biennium in which autism insurance in Wisconsin has made it to the stage of serious legislative consideration. In 2007 it was stymied in the Wisconsin Assembly, which then had a Republican majority, at the eleventh hour.
This year, after the 2008 elections which left both the Wisconsin Senate AND Assembly with Democratic majorities (plus a Democrat for a governor as well), the measure was introduced early in the session, as AB15 in the Assembly and SB3 in the Senate.
Both measures were referred to committee, and public hearings were held. The Senate committee recommended the measure back to the Senate unanimously. The Assembly committee should have had the votes to pass it as well, but were held up by one Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer (D), who had some concerns with the language of the bill.
Then the measure was taken out of those committees' purview altogether, and went to the Joint Finance Committee, where the ugly details of the state budget are being hashed out as I type (Wisconsin, like every other state, is being socked by the economic downspiral). The JFC is moving quickly
One such package, labeled as Motion 700, passed last night just before 10:30pm. The autism bill is included, on pages 20-22.
This will now be part of the budget bill that goes back to both houses, rather than continuing as the separate measure that was AB15/SB3. With the support of the governor and the majority leadership in both houses the way they stand, it would be very difficult to kill the autism insurance provision now, given the support it enjoys from the leadership in both houses and from Governor Doyle. From reading the live-blogging at the WisPolitics budget blog, it looks like the (failed) minority-party challenges to the motion were all about other things, leaving the autism provision alone.
The optimistic plan is to have a final budget passed by sometime
Big thumbs up this morning. I think it's gonna happen.
Links to prior related posts:
3/15/2009: WI Assembly Hearing on 2009 Autism Insurance Bill AB15
2/7/2009: More About Wisconsin Autism Insurance Legislation
1/11/2009: 2009 WI Senate Bill 3