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Greg Bluestein

Hillary Clinton wants Georgia to expand autism insurance

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Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire last month. She will continue the trend of small-group meetings in South Carolina. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Georgia lawmakers rallied behind a law last year that requires insurers to provide coverage for children who have been diagnosed with autism. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton wants to take a step further with a proposal to require insurers to cover autism treatment for any age.

The Democratic candidate is set to discuss her plan for expanded autism insurance and new screening and treatment initiatives on Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Iowa. It would require insurance plans offered through state health exchanges in Georgia and other states to cover autism treatment.

“While most states require private health insurance plans in their state-based exchange to cover the autism services, Georgia does not,” said Clinton. “As president, I would work with leaders in Georgia to remedy this situation as quickly as possible.”

The program also calls for a nationwide early outreach program to screen more children for autism and a ban on the use of mechanical, physical and chemical restraints to protect children with autism from abusive treatment at schools.

Georgia Republicans have long rejected the mandates in President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, but they managed to unite behind an insurance requirement for autism coverage in 2015. The changes they adopted required insurers to provide up to $30,000 a year in coverage for children 6 and under who have been diagnosed with autism.

Autism advocates said they’re ready for another step.

“I’m very happy to see a presidential candidate seriously grappling with and trying to address the autistic community’s real bread and butter issues,” said Larkin Taylor-Parker, a law student at the University of Georgia who has autism.

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