A blog about resources for autism and care and treatment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CALL TO ACTION – FRIENDS, FAMILY, AUTISM SUPPORTERS – WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY


 LET'S ACT
TODAY - TODAY - TODAY - TODAY - TODAY - TODAY 
 
The California Autism Insurance Mandate Bill (SB 946) authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg is awaiting the Governor’s action. This landmark bill, if signed by the Governor, will ensure that the health plans and insurance companies provide the most appropriate and effective medical treatments to people with autism.

The Governor could act at any time – PLEASE CONTACT HIM TODAY

SB 946 IN DANGER OF VETO BY GOV. BROWN. 
TELL HIM CHILDREN WITH AUTISM IN CALIFORNIA 
DESERVE INSURANCE REFORM!

To express your opinion, go to:

You can call, fax, or email. If you email the Governor, please select the “have a comment” button.

Once, there – go to the “drop-down” menu ─ 4th line down) select “Health & Human Services Agency”.

After you click “submit”, your comments can be very brief such as, “Dear Governor Brown, SB 946 in an important measure that will improve the lives of countless Californians. Having the health plans do their fair share, is good medicine and good public policy. I hope that you will sign this landmark legislation. Sincerely, Your Name and other appropriate contact info.”

Please forward this information to other interested individuals and organizations.

Thank you!
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More information about the Autism Insurance Mandate Bill
Courtesy of Autism Votes.org
Under the bill, as of July 1, 2012, health plans and insurers must cover behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other behavior intervention programs. SB 946 explicitly preserves the obligation of health plans and insurers to provide services under California's existing mental health parity law, through which many families have been able to secure coverage for other treatments such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and treatment of comorbid physical health issues.

Governor Brown has until October 9 to sign the bill into law, which is scheduled to sunset in 2014 if not renewed. Autism Speaks credited Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr. for leading the fight for insurance reform during the waning days of the legislative session.

Thousands of California families, in the absence of insurance coverage, have been forced to pay out-of-pocket or rely on taxpayer-funded programs for behavioral health treatments, which can cost $50,000 a year or more. Autism Speaks has helped lead the fight in statehouses across the nation to end such insurance company discrimination, resulting in the enactment of laws in 27 states. This year alone, laws have been enacted in Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia and Rhode Island, and a bill passed this summer by the New York Legislature awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

The use of early intervention treatments, such as ABA, can substantially increase a child’s independence, thereby reducing future taxpayer costs for special education and social services. In states that have enacted autism insurance reform, actual experience has demonstrated the impact on premiums has been far below the inflated estimates floated by the insurance industry.

The bill passed today first by the Assembly then by the Senate was designed to correct a flaw in insurance settlements negotiated over the summer between the state Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and two major insurers. The settlements initially appeared to provide the needed coverage, but contained a flaw that substantially negated their intended impact.

Summary of Amended Autism Insurance Reform Bill:

Senate Bill 946

Not all insurers and health plans in California are subject to the bill. For those that are:
  • Coverage must be available for treatment to "develop or restore, to the maximum extent practicable, the functioning of an individual with pervasive developmental disorder or autism"
  • Treatment must be recommended by a licensed doctor or psychologist and provided under a treatment plan, which must be reviewed by the provider at least every six months
  • Reimbursement must be made for the services of Board Certified Behavior Analysts, as well as the professionals and paraprofessionals whom they supervise
  • Coverage for behavioral health treatment must be subject to no specific age limit or dollar cap
  • The availability of insurance coverage does not reduce any obligation to provide services under an individualized education program or an individualized service plan
  • Health plans and insurers must maintain an adequate network that includes qualified autism service providers
    Autism Speaks Urges California Legislative Leaders for Fast Action on Autism Insurance Bill