Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Autism Insurance Coverage & Making a Difference

This year, we finally passed legislation that requires medical insurance companies that are regulated by the Commonwealth of Virginia to cover certain kinds of services for autistic children up to $35,000 called applied behavior analysis. These services can cost up to $50,000 per year for families, but they are proven to work and to reduce the need for services in the future.

Autism diagnoses are exploding and the pressure is mounting on Virginia's Community Services Boards as autistic children become adults. While not perfect, this legislation will provide some welcome relief to families who have been struggling to pay for these services.

The cost to insurance policies was predicted to be minimal, but the business community generally opposed the legislation for various reasons. The bill was also opposed by Tea Party groups due to their opposition to health care mandates.

From my point of view, the entire point of insurance is to spread the cost of sickness across our entire population so that people who have the misfortune to have an ailment do not bear the entire financial brunt of their condition. Excluding a specific proven therapy for children was inexcusable, especially in light of the exploding incidence of this condition.

I recently emailed a friend who has an autistic child to let her know the legislation had passed. The autism community is pretty tight and she already knew, but her email was still inspiring.

Hi Scott,

Thank you so much for the email and your support of the bill. I am
thrilled with the passage and confess that I am still holding my breath, too
good to be true:-)

Lucy is seven now and though we have always had what is considered great coverage, not a penny was ever covered by our carrier for ABA and Luci's autism needs.

We continue to live under the debt we incurred which was huge. That being said, if we had to move to a one room shack somewhere, it was worth every penny for the early intervention.

Lucy is thriving in first grade thanks to money well spent and will not be a burden of the State of Virginia when she is older because of what we did on credit

Your work is most appreciated and I hope you keep up the fight for not only our kids with autism but all of Virginia's children:-)

Emails like that help you remember that every vote we take in Richmond has consequences in real people's lives.

I'm glad we were able to get it done.

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