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HB272 • A bill to fund treatment for approximately 750 young children with autism moved forward Friday after being approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The bill has been refined to focus on children between the ages of 2 and 6 with up to 500 children on Medicaid, several hundred who are not on Medicaid (and may be privately insured) and several dozen who are on the Public Employees' Benefit and Insurance Program.

Elected officials are in negotiation with insurance companies about the possibility of contributing to funding. Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, the sponsor of HB272, has asked for $6 million in Medicaid dollars.

"Even at 750 we still would be missing some children," she said, noting that Utah's population of autistic children is more than 2,000.

Laura Anderson, with the Autism Council of Utah, said her group supported this latest compromise, emphasizing that treatment for young children has been proven to work.

Without it, "we are creating a generation of children who will need services far beyond public education," she said.

Julia Lyon