Ill. bill seeks coverage for sedation of special needs patients

A bill sponsored by Illinois legislators would require insurance companies to cover sedation during dental procedures for special needs patients.

The bill, HB 235, introduced by state Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), would require insurers to pay for sedation during essential dental procedures for developmentally disabled patients younger than 27 years old.

The measure was approved unanimously by a Special Needs Committee and now goes to the state House of Representatives for a vote not yet scheduled at press time.

Fine said she introduced the bill after hearing from parents who had to pay thousands of dollars to have their special needs children sedated for dental procedures.

"Procedures done without sedation threaten a child's emotional and physical safety," she told "Many families cannot afford out-of-pocket costs for sedation and, as a result, they forgo the dental work."

Currently, insurance companies are only required to cover sedation for developmentally disabled children younger than 6 years old.

"It is important to make sure families living with a developmental disability have access to all the services they need," Fine said. "This measure will help parents ensure their children get the best care possible, without emptying their bank account."

State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) explained his support for the measure.

"I support this bill because of the special needs that those on the autism spectrum have, a routine dental procedure can be anything but routine," he told in an email.

Costello noted that, in some cases, such procedures may jeopardize the safety of the patient or the dental practitioner.

"No parent wants to put their child into a situation like that," he said. "I am supporting House Bill 235 to relieve the burden on parents and service providers in ensuring the safety and comfort of children with special needs while getting necessary procedures. It's a common sense solution supported by both autism advocates and the Illinois State Dental Society."

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