NEW YORK, NY (September 14, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for his strong statement in support of legislation that would assure Michigan families caring for children with autism receive the insurance coverage they deserve.
Governor Snyders remarks, contained in his address today on state health care issues, add momentum behind a pair of bipartisan Senate bills that would end insurance company discrimination against Michigan children with autism. Sponsored by Senators Mike Green (R-Mayville) and Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit), the bills would require insurers regulated by the state to provide coverage for behavioral health treatments, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), for children up to the age of 18 and a maximum of $50,000 a year.
"Governor Snyder recognizes that the time is long overdue for Michigan to join the 27 other states, including Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, that have enacted autism insurance reform," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. "Joining with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Senators Green and Hunter, Governor Snyder is showing the leadership to end Michigan's unwanted distinction as one of the 10 worst states in America to raise a child with autism."
Autism Speaks has teamed up with the Michigan Autism Insurance Reform Coalition to press for quick legislative action, starting in the Michigan Senate, to pass SB 414, sponsored by Green, and SB-415, sponsored by Hunter, to enact reform. If enacted, the bills could save Michigan taxpayers $14 billion in longterm special education and social service costs as more children with autism are given access to behavioral treatments. When started at an early age, the treatments have been shown to improve a childs independence, reducing their need as they age for taxpayer-funded special services.
In the fight for autism insurance reform in statehouses around the nation, the insurance industry has floated inflated claims as to the projected impact on premiums. Actual experience in those states which have enacted reform has shown repeatedly that the impact is less than 1 percent. The savings for taxpayers, in the form of reduced special education, Medicaid and social service costs, has been calculated in the billions of dollars in states around the nation.
Without insurance coverage, Michigan families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year, said Bell. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children essentially mortgaging their entire futures.
In 2011, autism insurance reform laws have been enacted in Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia and Rhode Island, and the California and New York legislatures have passed bills that now await signature by their governors.