Autism Insurance in North Carolina – first steps

From Scott Badesch:

Dear Readers,

In many states, legislatures have passed legislation requiring health insurance providers to cover various proven treatments for people living with autism. Today, the North Carolina Legislature formally began the process of discussing the need for such insurance for North Carolinians who live with autism.

Earlier today, the Joint Study Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorder & Public Safety held its first meeting to discuss possible state legislation about health insurance coverage for treatment for autism.

The committee heard testimony from the following people: Dr. Rob Christian, Clinical Assistant Profession of Pediatrics and Child Psychiatry at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, who provided an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder; Bev Moore, Secretary of the Autism Society of North Carolina Board of Directors, who shared a parent’s perspective; Lorri Unumb, Senior Policy Advisor for Autism Speaks, who spoke of insurance initiatives in other states as well as the cost benefits of removing the exclusion of coverage for autism related treatments; and Dr. David Kaylie, FACS, of the Duke University Medical Center, who talked about his experience as both a parent, but also as a medical professional who works with families who have lost insurance coverage following a diagnosis.

The presenters provided the members of the committee with information and their thoughts on why this coverage is very much needed. As I sat in the audience, I couldn’t be prouder of this effort by these four individuals. They unselfishly talked about why insurance is needed to pay for treatment, which has been proven to help. They also talked about the need for North Carolina to do what is right and what is fair for its citizens living on the autism spectrum.

Today’s committee meeting is the first of what will be likely be many meetings and discussions that will take place over the next few months. The goal is to have a bill developed through the study commission that is introduced as legislation and passed by the end of the short session. I am very confident that this will occur.

While today’s meeting was a great first step, we know that during the next few months the need for such a bill will be challenged by others, including insurance companies and those who just don’t feel it is the right thing to do.

There are now as many as 97.000 people in North Carolina who live with autism. Their voices need to be heard during this process. The voices of parents, family members, and friends of those living with autism will also need to be heard if this effort is to be successful. Each person who believes in the need for this important legislation will need to become active in promoting the passage of this legislation once a formal bill is developed. We will need for you to meet with your local state senator and representatives and share your stories.

Right now I ask that you keep up to date on this effort. We promise to make that easy to do. We will keep you updated through our website, monthly emails, and this Blog.

I encourage you to make time to contact your local senator and representative and let them know that you support the development and passage of legislation which would require health insurance providers to cover proven treatment for people living with autism.

In addition, if you are a member of a local chamber of commerce or a business owner, please contact our Director of Government Affairs, Maureen Morrell. We want to make sure that all sides of this issue are examined and understood as well as how this can benefit local businesses and communities across our state.

Together we will get a bill passed. Together we will demonstrate that special interests don’t dictate what is going to happen to our children and others who live with autism. Together, we will stand proud when the Governor signs the legislation into law, allowing the many who will benefit from treatment to begin to have brighter tomorrows.

Sincerely,

Scott Badesch

Chief Executive Officer

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