Maine examines expanding autism treatment coverage

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are examining a bill to expand private insurance coverage for autism treatment.

But its hefty price tag gives it an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, which is grappling with a $119 million budget shortfall this session.

Current law mandates that insurance companies provide coverage for treatment of autism spectrum disorders for children ages 5 and under. Supporters say that's preventing families from getting effective, proven treatment for their children or forcing them onto Medicaid.

The original bill would increase the age of mandated autism coverage to 21, but lawmakers are now considering reducing the age to 10 or 14 to lower costs and increase the likelihood it gets passed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says autism spectrum disorders can cause significant social and behavioral challenges.

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