Rep. Petersen Recognized For Autism Bill

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by Russ Slaten

The Soupy Awards are out, and one person recognized was Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage). Petersen received the award for his work in passing legislation that ensures children with autism receive the treatment they need.

Today's recognition comes from the Stone Soup Group, an Alaska non-profit with the vision to sustain the health and well-being of children with special needs.

Rep. Petersen first introduced legislation to require health insurance policies to cover autism in 2009. The mother of a child with autism explained her family's troubles in paying for his treatment, even with proper health coverage.

Petersen reintroduced the bill last year with Sen. Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) introducing the senate version. Senate Bill 74 finally became law on June 27.

Rep. Petersen said the sooner a child with autism can receive treatment, the better his or her chances are to learn and interact with children of their own age. He said he's honored and humbled to receive the award, but says the law is only one step.

"One thing that this law will do is typically what is done in other states. Providers have come to those states and opened up businesses, and also with the universities they've started adding programs to train individuals to be able to provide services to autistic children," said Rep. Petersen.

Senate Bill 74 requires insurance companies to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders, and established the Comprehensive Autism Early Diagnosis and Treatment Task Force.

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aslana said on Saturday, Aug 11 at 4:42 AM

I'm so glad to hear this but I pose a question--what about when the autistic child grows up? What laws are in place for them?

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