On January 8, 2012, Autism Votes released an article titled “Autism Benefits Lagging Under Federal Health Care Reform”. The piece documents recommendations to congress, via experts from the organization Autism Speaks, on the necessity of behavioral health treatments for clients with autism. The following is a quote from Autism Speaks to the Dept. of Health and Human Services:
“Failing to categorize behavioral health treatment for autism as a mandatory element of the EHB package is not only bad health policy, but bad statutory construction as well.” Congress clearly stated when it enacted the ACA in 2010 that coverage for behavioral health treatment had to be one of the 10 essential health benefits each state was required to include as part of their new health care exchanges for the small group and individual markets.
Information available from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight was reviewed by Autism Speaks and the findings, especially in lieu of the epidemic rise in autism, are disturbing. Only 17 states were found to have definitively committed to including clear language for coverage and in 5 others, it was implied but unclear. Michigan falls neither in the 17 nor the 5 – a surprising revelation in lieu of our own Lt. Governor having a child with autism.
The inaction is likewise disappointing given the fact that hard science provides documented proof that behavioral therapies are effective in reducing unwanted behaviors, increasing effective communication, and fostering independence. Equally important is the happiness that follows when the frustrations of the autistic person are greatly reduced through the ability to effectively convey their needs, thereby improving the families overall quality of life and increasing the chances of life success for everyone.
Write or contact your local and state representatives to ensure that you not only have coverage for your family member with autism, but that you have the essential coverage recommended in 2010 by experts in the field, free from loopholes. If you do not know who your representatives are, you can find them at: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt .
To see the full article as well as full text from the congressional testimony go to: http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/autism-benefits-laggi... .