Gov. Deal pledges millions for Autism insurance

Gov. Deal pledges millions for Autism insurance

GEORGIA (WTOC) - Governor Nathan Deal's State of the State address brought hope to thousands of Georgia parents of children with autism.

He pledged more than $20 million dollars in the state budget to broaden insurance coverage of treatments. When thousands of Georgia children with Autism have new-found access to treatment, it will come in large part to a mom from Vidalia.

We've shown you the fight of Anna Bullard and her daughter Ava for years. It was 2015 when Governor Nathan Deal signed Ava's Law to at least provide insurance coverage for Autism treatment to age six. But Bullard knew children needed help beyond that.

"A lot of people had really felt that we had reached a plateau and that this was not going to happen for our kids in Georgia," said Bullard.

Then came Gov. Deal's address Wednesday.

"I will work with this legislative body to enhance Medicaid and the state health benefits coverage for those diagnosed with Autism up to the age of 21," Gov. Deal stated.

That's welcome news to parents of more than 20,000 children in the state. Bullard says this makes treatment available to many who wouldn't get it otherwise.

"The hurdle was Ava's Law and getting everyone to understand Autism and treatment," Bullard said.

She and other advocates say the earlier and longer kids get treatment, the better their odds.

"It means that child will have a good chance of living a more productive life," said Bullard.

She hopes the governor's statement helps the money survive the political season. She and thousands of Georgia parents won't breathe a real sigh of relief until that budget passes later this year.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.