The Senate has overwhelmingly passed legislation that would mandate coverage for an effective treatment for small children who have autism.
By a 27-13 vote Tuesday, the measure the powerful insurance and business lobbies fiercely oppose advances to a much tougher battle in the House.
But the bill fell one vote from a tie that could have killed it when Sen. Frank Wagner offered a floor amendment that would have added coverage requirements for state employees.
Because it would add new spending in a Spartan budget, Wagner's amendment would have killed the bill. It failed on a 19-21 vote.
In the gallery, two mothers of autistic children wept during the debate. Without insurance, treatment costs top $30,000 annually.
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