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Senate bill allows parents to seek autism diagnosis — even if doc doesn’t think screening necessary

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Parents and guardians could override their pediatrician and have their children taken to an autism specialist or the Early Steps Program for evaluation under a bill that cleared he Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday.

Sponsored by state Sen. Jeremy Ring, SB 146 allows parents “direct access” to the specialist if the physician conducting the initial evaluation determines that a referral is not necessary. Specialists parents could access without a referral include: psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists or a developmental or behavioral pediatrician.

The bill allows direct access for up to three visits per policy year for screening, evaluation and diagnosis of autism. The bill impacts those who are covered by HMOs as well as those covered by traditional insurance policies. The companion bill, HB 23, has not been heard in the House.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli told reporters last week that any bill that had not been heard in subcommittee was dead for the session.

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