- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The death of a bill to require insurers to cover autism inspired a South Dakota legislator to set up a task force on the issue.

“This came really hard and fast to me,” said Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings. “Everyone agrees they needed to have that discussion whether (that bill) failed or not.”

A South Dakota special committee of representatives and senators agreed Thursday on parameters for that study on autism spectrum disorders.

The task force would explore the issue and make policy suggestions. The study would cover insurance and treatment costs, availability of services and treatment protocols.

The state’s human services and labor and regulation departments would collaborate on the project.

Representatives in the House and the Senate voted unanimously Thursday to accept the special committee’s plan. Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration has expressed support for the measure.

The task force bill initially addressed another issue, but Munsterman brought an amendment to overhaul it.

The House did not agree with all the details of the study laid out in Munsterman’s plan, so the special committee discussed details on the study with Kim Malsam-Rysdon from the governor’s office.

Rep. Brock Greenfield, while happy with the result, was not optimistic when the debate began.

“I didn’t know if we’d be able to come to a fair and equitable agreement,” the Clark Republican said.

Representatives from the health care industry threw their support behind the bill.

Kitty Kinsman with Children’s Care Hospital and School said her organization is a major care provider for children with autism and she looks forward to providing input on the study.

“It’s actually a good study that should bring us back some sound data,” said Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave, the committee chairman.