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Saddler's Bill Extends Length of Autism Task Force

HB 147 extends Comprehensive Autism Early Diagnosis & Treatment Task Force

Monday, April 8, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today unanimously 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 the task force appointments weren’t completed until November 2, 2012, leaving only a few weeks to perform their work.

“The purpose of this bill is straightforward; to extend the date of the task force,” Saddler said. “Numerous studies show that early treatment can improve the life prospects for those with autism, can save the state money in reduced services, and can keep families together. The bill we passed last year does not make insurance universally available in Alaska and that’s why the task force was added – to find ways to extend coverage to more Alaska families.”

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 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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