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Tampa Lawmaker's Bill Could Boost Autism Screening

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Florida Legislature
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State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, filed a bill that could place new requirements on health insurers related to the screening of children for autism spectrum disorder.

A House Democrat on Tuesday filed a bill that could place new requirements on health insurers related to the screening of children for autism spectrum disorder.

The bill (HB 49), filed by Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, will be considered during the 2016 legislative session.

Under the bill, physicians would screen children if parents suspect the possibility of autism spectrum disorder.

When they deem it "medically necessary," physicians would refer children to specialists for diagnosis.

But when physicians find that such a referral is not necessary, parents would be advised that they may have access to evaluation from the state's Early Steps program or from specialists without referral.

Starting in 2017, the bill would require health plans to cover a minimum of three visits a year to specialists for evaluation of possible autism-spectrum disorder in such non-referral cases.