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New law expands insurance coverage for autism

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A bill signed into law Tuesday will prohibit health-insurance plans from refusing to cover autism services for adults.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved the legislation during a ceremony outside the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability in Albuquerque, alongside Rep. Elizabeth Thomson and Sen. Linda Lopez, both of whom have sons with autism.

Lujan Grisham said that as a child, she saw her own parents fight for disability services for her sister, underscoring the importance of the new law.

Thomson said Tuesday that the legislation, House Bill 322, will make it clear that Medicaid and other health plans can’t limit autism services only to children. Some families have had trouble getting services as their children become adults, she said.

“Autism doesn’t go away at 19,” Thomson said.

The legislation prohibits insurance companies and health plans from denying treatment for autism spectrum disorder on the basis of the person’s age.

The bill was jointly sponsored by Democratic Reps. Thomson, Karen  Bash and Natalie Figueroa, all of Albuquerque.

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