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Hail Mary Monday for the Autism Bill

10:34 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga. -- Melissa Solares holds her 14-month-old sleeping daughter, rocking back and forth, as she explains to the lawmaker she has stopped in the hallway, that the autism insurance bill has the support of the Surgeon General.

It's Hail Mary Monday at the capitol.

MORE | Continuing coverage of the Autism Gap: The fight for insurance 

"Yeah. This is it. Yeah." Anna Bullard knows it is no longer a fight to get the autism insurance bill to a vote. That fight is over. The fight now is to simply get a hearing before it goes to the insurance mandate commission, where it will sit until next year.

Of the three bills going to the commission, the autism bill is the only one not to get a hearing.

Bullard says, "I've voted republican my whole life."

The lawmakers not supporting the bill are people for whom Anna Bullard voted.

"Why weren't we given a hearing?" she asks. "To me that goes to leadership to say,'this is your party.' This is the republican party saying that we won't even hear that children need treatment in the state of Georgia. We don't want to even hear it."

For a month, Anna has walked the halls, glad handing, urging, encouraging. And on this last ditch effort monday, she has company, eight year old Ava.

"She wanted to come. She doesn't know." Bullard begins to cry. "She doesn't know that people don't want this in Georgia. She doesn't know other people don't want kids to be like her. She thinks everybody wants people to be like her. She does not know that she's coming into a building where they are saying 'we don't want you here.'"

Ava has autism, and she has become the face of the Georgia movement to join 32 other states that now cover autism treatments.

Sitting in the hallway on a red leather chair, Ava smiles and says, "I would pass this bill because it's fair and right for kids." Ava makes it to the floor of the senate, meeting Lieutenant Governor Cagle.She recites the pledge with the state senators.

Moments after her daughter leaves the senate, Anna gets word -- a change of heart.

"He is going to give us a hearing."

The autism bill will get a hearing. It will not get a vote. Not this time. Not this year.

Bullard says, "The state of Georgia is better than this. They're better than this. I mean I don't know what to say except to say that I will keep coming and banging on your door until you tell me that children with autism deserve a fair chance in life in Georgia."

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