ATLANTA, GA (March 10, 2009) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, asked Georgia legislators to admonish the Georgia Chamber of Commerce for its vindictive anti-family public campaign and to reject its absurd claim that autism insurance reform legislation, SB161 and HB426, will cost an estimated $3.9 trillion a year.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce in a statement to Georgia's state House Insurance Committee, warned legislators that the cost for insuring children with autism could top more than a trillion dollars. Licensed actuaries have put the actual cost at $21.20 per policy holder.
"A trillion, billion, million dollars -- who are they kidding? These amateurish calculations are being thrown around to prey upon people's fears and vulnerabilities, when the Chamber should instead be focusing on Georgia's families, and their own membership, who are living with autism and facing insurmountable medical expenses," said Elizabeth Emken, Vice President of Government Relations for Autism Speaks. "1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism, in Georgia and across the country. The forces that oppose access to healthcare coverage will clearly go to any lengths, churning out bold-faced lies and damaging misinformation with no remorse or thought."
Autism Speaks has released an actuarial study (www.autismvotes.org) developed by the Actuarial Consulting practice of Oliver Wyman, an international consulting firm, that has developed a model to estimate the costs associated with state laws addressing coverage for the treatments of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Based on this analysis, the Georgia legislation would only increase insurance premiums by 0.63% and provides families with medically necessary coverage of ABA and other evidenced-based treatments for ASDs.
The Georgia Chamber has knowingly misled legislators by choosing to ignore professional actuarial work, and has instead adopted the same spurious methods that were recently used in Oklahoma and are now being challenged in the courts. Flawed studies and conjecture hurt families, shifts costs onto school systems, and encourages individual economic hardship, as opposed to finding solutions, added Emken.
Eight states Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have enacted autism insurance reform legislation to cover essential autism treatments and services. In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children essentially mortgaging their entire futures. Several other state legislatures will vote on similar legislation during the current session.