LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Senate is poised to debate bills aimed at requiring insurance companies to cover some types of treatment for autism.

The bills are on the Senate’s tentative agenda for Tuesday. Bills could be debated but likely wouldn’t come up for a vote until later in the week. The measures would advance to the House if the Senate approves them.

One bill sets up a fund to help reimburse insurers for paid claims related to diagnosis and treatment of autism. That provision is included in hopes of lessening opposition from business and insurance groups.

More than half the states in the U.S. require insurers to provide autism coverage, and Gov. Rick Snyder has called for similar requirements in Michigan.

Previous efforts to mandate that health insurers provide coverage for certain autism therapies have run into opposition from business and insurance groups. They say mandating coverage would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance, and that’s a major reason why efforts for such a mandate have been stalled in Michigan.

Autism Speaks spokesman Rick Remington told WWJ Newsradio 950 an estimated 15,000 children in Michigan are autistic and early treatment can actually save the state money in the long run.

Supporters want coverage for more intensive and costly behavioral therapies for autism, a range of disorders that hinder a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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