Lieutenant Governor Signs Autism Bill - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Lieutenant Governor Signs Autism Bill

The Lieutenant Governor signs a new law aimed at helping families with autistic children.

It's been years in the making and as the Lieutenant Governor signed the bill the room breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Scott Koenigsknecht, Father of Autistic Child: "Its gonna help families be able to access therapies and treatments that they haven't in the past."

Scott Koenigsknecht and all of the families here know too well the cost of treating autism.

Koenigsknecht: "Everything about autism is designed to destroy families, many families enter bankruptcy, the divorce rate is over 80 percent."

Lisa Espinoza, Mother of Autistic Child: "I've spent thousands of dollars on treatments for my son."

But Koenigsknecht and others agree, this legislation will help families cope.

Koenigsknecht: "In the past, before today, when families left the doctors office with a diagnosis of autism, they left without hope."

And Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley understands that.

Calley: "My family was really struggling through, trying to understand what was happening, why was everything so difficult."

He says when he figured out his daughter had autism, that's when it got even more difficult.

Calley: "When we looked to seek a diagnosis and get treatment after that, what we found was that the exclusion of coverage for autism was so extreme in the state of Michigan that we didn't have practitioners."

Espinoza: "Because the insurance companies do not cover it - there's no provider network."

But Calley says this new law will change that, bringing skilled therapists back to Michigan.

Espinoza: "Its gonna help them have a normal functioning life."

And those here say that's something every child with autism deserves.

The state says the law will save billions in taxpayer dollars as early intervention cuts costs in the long run for autistic children.

Insurance companies have 180 days to comply with the new law.

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