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Summary: HB 3276 would increase the regulatory burden on health insurers that provide health benefit plans covering enrollees diagnosed with autism. Such insurers currently must, at a minimum, provide coverage until these enrollees are nine years of age for all generally recognized services recommended by the autistic enrollee’s primary care physician. HB 3276 would require all health benefit plans to screen a child between the age of 18 and 24 months for autism spectrum disorder.
HB 3276 also contains language relating to Essential Health Benefits as defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Essentially the provision states that if federal regulators determine this regulation to be an excess benefit not required by a qualified health plan, and Texas is required to defray the cost, that the requirement to test 18-24 month old children would not be applied to qualified health plans.
HB 3276 increases regulations on Texas insurers, resulting in an expansion of government and an encroachment on free markets. Moreover, there are insurers who already cover screening, meaning parents can take responsibility for their child's care by choosing an existing insurance plan that covers such a test.
There is evidence that diagnosing and treating autism from an earlier point in development offsets costs in the long run so it is probably wise to conduct the tests early on. However, it is not within the proper role of limited government to mandate that insurers cover such a test.
We oppose HB 3276