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      Heineman to Sign Bill Requiring Insurance Coverage for Autism

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      Gov. Dave Heineman is expected to sign a bill that would require some health insurers to offer coverage for autism screenings and therapy.

      Heineman will hold a public bill signing on Monday along with autism advocates at the Capitol. Insurance plans under the new law would cover up to 25 hours per week of behavioral health treatment, and insured children would continue to qualify for coverage until they turn 21 years old.

      Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln says he introduced the bill because he has seen the benefits the treatment can provide for children.

      "I careabout this issue because I have seen the impact that this treatment can have onthe future of a child with autism," said Coash. "Positive things canhappen when they receive life-changing treatment. These families are strongwilled and they never gave up on the bill, so I wouldn't either. Today is aspecial day."

      Certain insurance plans will be exempt from the autism requirement, including those that are sold in the individual and small group markets under the new federal health care marketplace.

      Also, Nebraska is preempted frommandating coverage on plans governed by the federal Employee Retirement IncomeSecurity Act of 1974. Most private employer sponsored plans are ERISAplans.

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