Health insurance plans in Michigan may soon be required to cover childhood autism treatments. The Legislature sent Governor Rick Snyder a package of bills today.
Opponents argued the government should not order private insurance companies what to do.
But supporters say the coverage will be a cost-saver for taxpayers because the treatments will help more children with autism grow to live independently.
Democratic state Representative Lisa Brown called the legislation a good first step on the way to coverage for everyone with a mental health disorder.
"Discrimination is never right. And when someone was diagnosed with autism the insurance companies turned their back on them. They discriminated against people with that diagnosis. That was wrong.
"Ten years ago, this fight had to happen over diabetes," she says. "The whole point of insurance is, what if? There shouldn't be a condition to that - what if, only if it's this, that or the other."
Governor Snyder is expected to sign the measures. He called for the autism mandate in his State of the State address and Lt. Governor Brian Calley has a daughter with autism.
Calley says the case can be made for extending the mandate to other mental health disorders, but autism was a good place to start.
"Autism is the only physical or mental health diagnosis excluded from 100 percent of all policies in the state of Michigan," Calley says. "There's no other physical or mental health diagnosis that's anywhere near the exclusion autism has."
But on the same day the Legislature sent him the bills, a state Senate committee eliminated funding in his Medicaid budget for treating autism.