Your Georgia Desk
Republican Priorities on Fast Track
On Monday, Georgia Senate Republicans released our legislative agenda for this year’s session of the Georgia General Assembly. When Republicans gathered to discuss the most pressing issues facing our state, we determined quickly that our legislative priorities should focus squarely on the education, health, and protection of Georgia’s children. Likewise, to better ensure these children will have a prosperous future, we are resolved to continue our efforts toward economic development and job creation – this year that includes working to bolster our transportation infrastructure.
The Republican Caucus has developed a five-point plan for the 2015 session:
- Helping young children with autism
- Providing college/technical school opportunities for high school students
- Continuing and expanding the protection of our children
- Promoting economic development and job creation
- Teaching the founding principles of our constitutional republic to our students
Our first priority this session was to assist children in receiving the diagnosis and therapy they need to treat autism. Today, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with some form of autism—a true epidemic. This bill will require insurance companies to cover analysis, treatment, and counseling for autistic children under six years old; joining 38 other states with similar laws.
Early treatment has shown remarkable improvement rates for these children and can help put them in regular classrooms, steering them away from much more costly special education programs. This is especially important for children on the lower end of the autistic spectrum. A report from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that 47 percent of autistic children who receive early treatment can achieve “typical function.” The increased insurance cost to cover early autism treatment is only $0.31 per health insurance member, per month. This small investment will easily be recovered through reductions in educational and medical expenditures for each child who benefits from early treatment. To ensure that no undue burden is imposed on businesses, the insurance requirement will not apply to companies with 10 or fewer employees and will be waived if it results in more than a 1 percent increase in premiums. We simply cannot afford to deny these children early treatment coverage.