Parents frustrated after autism bill fails in GA legislature - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Parents frustrated after autism bill fails

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

It was an emotional day for many parents who were counting on the senators and representatives in Atlanta to pass Ava's Law.

The bill would have required insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, including one of the most expensive - Applied Behavior Analysis.

Most parents who have children with autism have to pay out-of-pocket for treatments because most insurance companies will not cover it.

"I'm a little defeated. It's sad because ABA is the only proven therapy to help children with autism," said parent Mindy Galbreath.

These treatments can cost $50,000 to $75,000 a year.

"You have to give up something, whether it be not paying for college for one of your children or selling something," said Galbreath.

"It's just unaffordable. People just cannot afford it," said parent Pauline Shaw.  

Shaw said her daughter has never had ABA therapy, but since she is diagnosed with several different disorders, she has been able to get some insurance coverage.

"We were told she would never walk or talk and now she is semi-verbal," said Shaw. "She can count to 10 in Spanish."

Regardless, the expense is overwhelming. Places such as Kicklighter Academy who help children with autism were counting on this bill that would help their students' families.

"Those families would get some immediate relief on what they pay, we could bill their insurance companies," said Kicklighter Academy Executive Director Robert Kozlowski.  

Now many families will just have to continue to pay out of pocket and wait until next year.

"[The senators and representatives] have met their match. These parents are not going away, they will hear from us," said Galbreath.

Thirty-four states have already passed similar legislation, including South Carolina and Florida and many parents are determined to see Georgia on that list next year.

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