SALT LAKE CITY — Children ages 2 to 9 who have autism spectrum disorders would be covered by health benefit plans beginning Jan. 1, 2016, under a bill approved Wednesday night by the House.

SB57, sponsored by Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, requires health benefit plans in the individual market or large group market to provide coverage for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Under the bill, treatment plans would have to be assessed every six months.

The amended bill must be approved by the Senate. The bill, which sunsets the coverage on Jan. 1, 2019, provides a waiver for insurers if premium costs increase more than a certain percentage.

Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, said SB57 “is an idea whose time has come.”

Passage of the bill “is historic for the people, and it’s a good thing for us to do,” he said.

Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, who is a physician, said he has treated several adults with autism spectrum disorders who did not receive treatment as children.

“Some of these adults require expensive supports to stay alive,” he said.

Several representatives lauded Shiozawa for his leadership and patience in balancing the interests of patients and health care plans.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, urged the bill’s passage.

“Help me support these families. Help me support this bill,” he said.

The bill passed on a vote of 69-3.

— Marjorie Cortez