ATLANTA - “We started 7 years ago.”
That’s what Anna Bullard of Vidalia, Georgia said about her push at the state capitol to get lawmakers to require insurance companies cover therapy for children. After almost a decade, lawmakers passed the bill Tuesday.
“It hits me, all the hard work and all the people who pushed back on us and said this will never happen, that's the part when I’m driving in my car I think, ‘Oh my God, we changed a law in Georgia. It's pretty awesome," Bullard said.
Before voting, lawmakers invited 10-year-old Ava Bullard on the senate floor to ring the gavel and watch the vote.
When talking about a law named after her, Ava Bullard quietly said, "I think it's cool."
As part of the compromise, insurance companies will provide $35,000 a year in therapy coverage for autistic children 6 years old or younger. Bullard said it was never just about her daughter, but rather, about all autistic children.
"Ava is the story of hope; Ava is the face of thousands of children who have potential," Anna Bullard said.
Children like 4-year-old Preston. His mother Dani said they spent thousands of dollars on therapy after insurance companies refused to pay, but Ava’s Law changes that.
"It's already an emotional burden, autism, so the financial burden shouldn't be there, and today it's not, after today it's not. We’re so excited," she said.