McDonnell's Bid to Dilute Autism Insurance Coverage Rejected

By: BOB LEWIS - AP Political Writer
By: BOB LEWIS - AP Political Writer

The General Assembly rejected Gov. Bob McDonnell's bid to dilute mandated coverage for children's autism treatment, but not by a margin sufficient to avoid his veto.

Without debate, the Senate voted 25-14 to reject an amendment that would scuttle the entire law should a court strike down its $35,000-per-year cap on benefits for each covered child.

The House voted 28-71 against McDonnell's amendment.

Two-thirds of both chambers, 27 of the 40 senators and 67 of 100 delegates, is needed to enact a bill over the governor's objection. Because the Senate failed to muster two-thirds, McDonnell can either sign the bill, let it become law without his signature or veto it after the fact.

Advocates had fought for 11 years to have some group health plans cover applied behavior analysis, a promising regimen for treating autistic children. They said McDonnell's amendment would have wrecked more than a decade of work.

The insurance and business lobby and tea party groups opposed the measure, likening it to federal mandates in the Democratic health care reform law.

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