Autism insurance bill sponsors have introduced very good bills this year that make sure that North Carolina health plans cover services for autism spectrum disorder so it’s disappointing that autism insurance legislation has not moved forward in the North Carolina General Assembly this session. We all know it’s the right thing to do, making sure that children with autism get the services they need to be healthy and successful. We also know that it will save money in the long run by promoting independence and less disability. Unfortunately, to get it passed, we need to convince NC General Assembly lawmakers to raise insurance standards in both private and public health plans which is estimated to cost some money – not much money mind you, actuarial studies show less than 1% – and right now many lawmakers are against taking actions where they would be increasing costs to business or state health plans. This is not the only reason that autism insurance bills have not passed, but it is a huge factor. Other factors: lack of understanding about autism spectrum disorder and its treatments as well as opposition from powerful interests like the insurance industry and business associations.
What can you do? Continue to tell Legislators about what autism spectrum disorder means for you and your family and how much getting services covered by insurance would help. It’s positive to note that more and more Legislators are aware of autism, its impact and the need to address the issue even when they don’t completely understand autism spectrum disorder or the services and treatments. You can tell them that insurance coverage is something they can do to help and ask that they pass House Bill 826 and Senate Bill 115 . (And make sure if your legislator is a bill sponsor that you thank them!)
This legislative session will likely end in less than two weeks and ASNC thinks it very, very unlikely that any autism insurance bill will be heard in that time. The bill will carry over and can be passed during the next short legislative session that begins in May of 2012. Between now and then families, self-advocates, autism professionals and other advocacy organizations must meet with their NC state General Assembly Legislators, especially those on the House Health and Human Services Committee, the House Insurance Committee and the Senate Insurance Committee to urge those lawmakers to pass the bill. We must all continue our efforts in order to make this happen in North Carolina! If you want to join us in working to pass autism insurance coverage, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Government Relations, Autism Society of North Carolina, 919-965-5068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.