It’s summer, and most state legislatures have wound down for the year. Not so with North Carolina, where my travels have taken me most weeks over the last couple of months. Along with local autism organizations, Autism Speaks continues to push for passage of House Bill 498, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 105 to 7 last year. We’re working every angle to see passage through the full legislature during this short session in North Carolina. Here are some of the parents and providers who worked the halls of the legislature recently, along with one of our autism champions, Rep. Chuck McGrady.
One great piece of news out of North Carolina: the State Health Plan Board of Trustees voted on May 30th to add Applied Behavior Analysis benefits to its coverage! Autism Speaks requested this coverage through a formal presentation to the Board in November. We testified again last month, after which the Board voted unanimously to add the coverage. This move creates ABA benefits for more than half a million North Carolinians who work for the state, including school teachers. Hooray! The photo below was taken right after the unanimous vote by the State Health Plan in NC.
The next morning, my husband Dan, our 3 sons and I enjoyed breakfast with Jeff and Tanya Holland and their son Christopher. Tanya spoke eloquently to the North Carolina State Health Plan Board of Trustess about the need for insurance coverage for ABA therapy. Tanya and Jeff are extraordinary advocates for the special needs community.
Also in North Carolina, I recently had the privilege of speaking to a group of parents at ABC of NC, an ABA-based center in Winston-Salem, and also at the Mariposa School for Children with Autism, based in Cary.
In mid-June, North Carolina families and providers came to Raleigh for a Lobby Day on the autism insurance bill. Speakers at the press conference included Dr. Geri Dawson of Duke University and parent Darryl Marsch, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Krispy Kreme. (Darryl came bearing doughnuts!)
Outside of the Carolinas . . . I took a spin through Chicago recently to speak to the Association for Behavior Analysis International on why it’s important for ABA providers to become engaged in public policy.
And finally, I had the pleasure of speaking along with other GW professors at an Autism Transition symposium at the GW University. GW is launching its Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (AND) Initiative, which is focused on individuals with autism who are transitioning to adulthood. Autism Speaks is also expanding its focus to include more work on transition, especially housing for individuals on the spectrum.
Stay tuned for more regular updates from “On the Road to Autism Insurance Reform!”