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Legislature Extends Length of Autism Task Force

Saddler’s HB 147 extends Comprehensive Autism Early Diagnosis & Treatment Task Force

Thursday, April 11, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska Legislature today passed legislation extending the reporting and sunset date of the Comprehensive Autism Early Diagnosis and Treatment Task Force.

House Bill 147, by Representative Dan Saddler, R-JBER/Eagle River, allows the task force, which was created with the passage of Senate Bill 74 during the 27th Legislature, to do its work and report back to the Legislature by January 15, 2015 instead of the previous date of January 15, 2013. The change is necessary because delays in appointments left the task force insufficient time to perform its work.

“Numerous studies show that early, effective treatment of autism can improve the life prospects for those with autism, can save the state money in reduced services, and can keep families together, and those are some of the reasons why we passed autism legislation last year," Saddler said. "HB 147 simply extends the time available for the Autism Task Force created by last year's bill to do its work: to try to extend autism insurance coverage to more Alaska families, to recommend better autism screening, diagnosis and treatment systems, and to evaluate the financial impacts of such recommendations.”

The nine-member task force is charged with making recommendations to the Legislature for a statewide plan to support early diagnosis and treatment of autism; making recommendations for draft legislation to extend insurance coverage to the greatest number of Alaskans; evaluating the fiscal effect of its proposals; and analyzing how the federal Affordable Care Act is expected to affect the task force’s recommendations.

HB 147 passed the House and Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor’s office for signature.

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