Nebraska Bill to Require Autism Coverage Advances

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require insurance companies to offer coverage for autism therapy.

The measure won second-round approval on Wednesday after several failed attempts to attach it to other bills in the final days of this year's session. The sponsor, Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln, said earlier this week that he wasn't going to drop the issue even though the bill's prospects looked bleak.

The proposal would allow for up to 25 hours per week of covered therapy, until the insured person turns 21 years old.

After waiting for two years, parents say they're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel to help kids get a specific autism therapy like Colleen Jankovich who's fight for this bill may have paid off.

"I don't know that words can really describe how that feels to know that something we've been working on as a community for so long is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing other people have my back is incredible," said Jankovich.

Her 11-year-old son Matthew has autism and currently they can't get Applied Behavior Analysis treatment because their insurance stopped covering it.

"Our insurance covered it, to a point and then they didn't cover it anymore and cut it off," said Jankovich.

Senator Colby Coash says ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for Autism but getting this bill this far wasn't easy.

"I had two vehicles that I could try and it did not work out and then finally was able to get a vehicle this morning, very relieving to get this done," said Coash.

Jankovich says her son may not be able to benefit from this treatment anymore because how old he is, but believes her fight is to pay it forward for other families who weren't able to get the therapy.

"If they can have meaningful successful lives they will not require the care that my son requires and they will be happy and that is the goal in life is to have fulfillment whether you have a disability or not," said Jankovich.

This bill would also end a 2015 sunset date for a law that allows coverage for oral cancer drugs, and require coverage to pay for a special formula that treats a rare children's digestive disorder.

The bill is LB254.