Friday, February 1, 2019

UAC 2019 Legislative Session Preview

There are hundreds of bills already numbered, and more than a thousand yet to be numbered.  Last year, a record 1,359 bill files were opened.

Below are items that may have consequence for the autism community.  This list shouldn’t be considered comprehensive. If you become aware of other issues, please let us know about them.

Autism Amendments”, SB95, Senator Bramble
This bill does 2 things for autism treatment coverage in health benefit plans entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2020:
  • Removes age caps.
  • Removes maximum hour caps for treatment

Comment:  This would be a very good change for autism treatment in Utah.  Fears of rising costs have not come true, and some plans have voluntarily changed to incorporate age cap removal.

Medicaid Expansion, SB0096, SB0097, HB0210.  The ballot proposition, Prop 3 was passed last November by voters, extending Medicaid coverage to 138% of the federal poverty level, along with a sales tax increase to partially pay for it.  There are multiple efforts to change or repeal it. These will include work requirements and other limitations which would require federal approval (which was not forthcoming for previous efforts).

Comment:  Full Medicaid expansion would bring the most benefit to the autism community.  Several organizations led the effort to pass Prop 3 and continue to lead the effort to keep it in place, including the Utah Health Policy Project.  For a recent journalistic analysis, see this article.  Alliance for a Better Utah recently published this fact sheet.

Adult Autism Treatment Fund A bill is to be proposed that will create a fund similar to the previous one, but for adults on the spectrum.  Clients served would be individuals with a clinical diagnosis of ASD who require significant supports, such as 24/7 care.  The fund would be used to support treatment from qualified providers focused on pre-vocational, vocational, and daily living skills.  Progress would be monitored and reported to the Utah Department of Health.

Adult Autism Center The Carmen Pingree Autism Center is developing a center for adults, hopefully with some financial support from the legislature.  Read more about it here.

DSPD Funding Governor Herbert's proposed budget includes $28.4M of ongoing funding for people with disabilities, including a new Limited Supports Waiver that would provide services for 2,000 people. Read more about it here.

DLC Info

The following bills were highlighted by the Disability Law Center as ones to watch:

Comment:  A program like this was implemented in Virginia, where 12% of the students have a disability, but accounted for 1/3rd of the referrals to law enforcement.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment”, SB0039, Fillmore
Comment:  Among other things, this bill may loosen the criteria under which an individual may be placed into involuntary civil commitment.


The following are among the 78 bills being tracked by the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities:

Special Education Recodification”, HB0029, Val Peterson

Medical Cannabis Modifications”, HB0106, Judkins

"Mental Health Services in Schools", SB0106, Fillmore - "This bill enacts provisions relating to coverage of certain mental health services by the Medicaid program and certain health insurers."

“ABLE Act Amendments”, not yet numbered,  Interim Committee

“Public School Mental Health Amendments”, not yet numbered, Hutchings

What You Can Do

We’re getting together to share information and collaborate. Pick the time that works best for you and then make sure to RSVP to

Wednesday - February 6th @ 1:00 pm & 7:00 pm
Utah Autism Academy
1875 S. Geneva Road Orem, UT 84058

Monday - February 11th @ 1:00pm & 7:00pm
Carmen B. Pingree Center
780 Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

If you are unable to attend one of these informational events but want to share your thoughts or be involved, please contact We need your support!