Parents Hope Autism Bill Passes

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Wednesday, April 2, 2014 is World Autism Day and families across Nebraska are looking at a bill that would give them hope. However, one lawmaker said the clock is ticking on whether his bill will hit the floor this year.

10/11 spoke with one parent who said if people could live in her shoes, they would understand the struggles of parenting a child with autism.

Jacob Depenbusch is in the 9th grade and 15 years old. His mom, Vicki said ever since he’s been diagnosed with autism, it’s been a challenge—especially financially. She said it takes her family about $20,000 a year to put Jacob through therapy.

“Families have been touched by cancer and heart disease,” said Depenbusch. “Treatment is expensive. I don’t understand why families have to fight so hard to get help because autism isn’t covered.”

Vicki said her hope is on Senator Colby Coash’s bill to help cover the therapy for children with autism. Though, Coash said, he’s hoping his bill will be heard before the end of legislative session.

“It’s not the policy that’s my barrier,” said Coash. “It’s running out of time.”

There is only six days left to vote and debate bills this year, and Coash hopes his legislation gets a chance on the floor. If it doesn’t, Coash said he won’t let this year be the end.

“I’ll reintroduce it next year…it’s an important issue,” Coash Said.

Coash said there is only a small window of opportunity to help kids with autism, so they would be able to sustain themselves and be more independent.

And for Vicki, she hopes the help would come soon.

“It shouldn’t be a fight like this.” Said Depenbusch. “This would give families so much hope. It would make families feel like they’ve been heard, because families feel like Nebraska doesn’t care.”

If the bill does go through, not all families will be covered. Coash said it all depends on their insurance coverage, but he said it will help about 1,000 children all over the state.