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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Senators continue autism advocacy at the Georgia Capitol

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, speaks during a press conference on Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol last week.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, speaks during a press conference on Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol last week.

Despite the death of her autism bill on the last day of this year’s legislative session, Sen. Renee Unterman is continuing her push to advance insurance coverage for children with the disorder.

The Buford woman, who heads the Senate Health Committee, held a press conference with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other senators to discuss the rising prevalence of autism last Wednesday, which was Autism Awareness Day in Georgia.

“In light of the CDC’s recently released report showing a sharp increase in autism rates, it is vitally important we take swift action to help those suffering with an autism spectrum disorder,” Unterman said. “The cause of autism remains unknown, but the steps we take today will go a long way toward providing early intervention and treatment options for countless Georgians statewide.”

Activists used the occasion to highlight recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing that one in 68 children are diagnosed as on the autism spectrum disorder. The group, which included other local Sens. David Shafer, Don Balfour and Fran Millar, discussed initiatives aimed at reducing the disorder’s impact on the state.

“I was honored to stand with so many colleagues and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders to recognize World Autism Awareness Day,” Lt. Gov. Cagle said. “We have made tremendous strides in Georgia this year. Thanks to Gov. Deal’s leadership, we will provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders as part of the State Health Benefit Plan. Additionally, we added significant resources to the Department of Public Health to help with early diagnosis. With leaders like Sen. Unterman, I am confident we will build on the successes of this year and continue to tackle this epidemic that affects one in 68 children.”

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.