Medical Center, Navicent Health supports state’s autism bill

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Medical Center, Navicent Health supports the state’s autism bill, also known as “Ava’s Law.” The proposed legislation would require insurance companies to provide coverage for autism therapies for children under the age of six. 

“It’s just that better quality of life,” said Melanie Shell, a pediatric speech and language pathologist at the Pediatric Outpatient Rehab, Navicent Health.

This is what hospital officials hope to give their patients at Pediatric Outpatient Rehab, Navicent Health. 

“Almost half of our patients are somewhere on the autism spectrum,” Shell said. 

The center has a number of different therapy tools designed to help patients with the neurological disorder. They range from physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

“I just had a child graduate who is done with therapy. He’s now talking. He’s doing well in school,” recalls Shell. 

But employees are starting to see a trend.

“We see parents coming and not being able to afford therapy,” said Shell.

Health officials at Medical Center, Navicent Health are pushing lawmakers to pass the autism bill. If the law passes, insurance companies would be required to provide coverage for autism therapies for children under the age of six.

“Right now, some of the insurance companies do cover some visits. Maybe 20 a year. The child may need 50, 60, maybe 75 visits,” Shell said. 

The mother of the fifth grader, who the bill is named after, says insurance companies aren’t too fond of the proposed bill. 

“Insurance companies oppose it strictly because they don’t want to add any costs at all. They just don’t want to cover anything that they don’t have to,” said Anna Bullard, Ava’s mother. 

This is upsetting to her because she’s see how powerful this treatment can be.

“She went from a child who had literally no skills, no ability to communicate, to a child who is now in fifth grade, top of her class, has friends, is going to be independent and be able to lead her own life,” explained Bullard. 

Step by step, Navicent Health officials are seeing improvements in their patients. They hope this bill is the key to giving every child with Autism a chance at a better life.

State senators passed the bill last month. The House Insurance Committee is expected to review next Wednesday.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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