Autism insurance reform sits in NC Senate - | WBTV Charlotte

Autism insurance reform sits in NC Senate


Parents with autistic kids in North Carolina have had to pay out of pocket for a treatment that helps their kids speak.

In 37 other states, health insurance helps cover the cost. And parents are hoping before lawmakers end this short session in Raleigh, North Carolina will join the list of those states.

Ryan Cennamo was diagnosed with autism when he was toddler living in New York.  He's 12 and is getting braces.

"I'm scared," he tells his mom, Amie Cennamo.

"Don't be scared," she said.

The Yankees fan's mom says before they moved health insurance covered a behavioral therapy called ABA.

"We made money on our house in New York that became Ryan's fund, literally. And then we ask family. We do what we have to do," said Cennamo.

Since living in North Carolina they pay out of pocket for the therapy. She says it can cost a hundred dollars an hour.

"It's medically recommended and necessary but insurance won't cover it," said Cennamo.

House Bill 498 forces health insurance companies to expand autism coverage. H498 passed in the house last year but it is sitting in committee in the Senate.

Senator Jeff Tarte explains what could end the hold up.

"If there is any group that can definitely sway the decision to move this it would be the executives and the people at Blue Cross Blue Shield without a doubt," said Tarte.

Parents like Amie Cennamo don't have to put all their hopes into one bill sitting in a Senate committee.

They can look to another bill Senate Bill 493, for Health And Safety Regulatory Reform.

Autism Insurance Reform was folded into that larger bill that Senators are likely to vote on before this short session ends.

"No guarantees what the bill will even look like when final vote occurs," said Tarte.

Tarte says the short session is expected to last through next week.

"We want the opportunity for it to come to the table for it to be voted on," said Cennamo, "We've come so close. There's so many families that need it."

If it doesn't happen now, the Senate's next session starts in January after elections.

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