[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Autism Speaks Urges California Legislature to Follow Lead of 27 Other States, Act Quickly on Autism Insurance Reform Bill
DMHC Settlement with Blue Shield is ‘Not the Answer’ for Families Paying Thousands of Dollars a Year in Out-of-Pocket Expenses
NEW YORK, NY (July 15, 2011) – Action on an autism insurance reform bill before the California Legislature is more urgent than ever in the wake of a settlement the state reached with a major health plan which does little to improve coverage for families, Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks’ vice president of state government affairs, said today.
“Our review of the settlement announced Wednesday between the state Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and Blue Shield of California shows it is not the answer thousands of California families have been looking for in caring for their loved ones with autism,” said Unumb. “The right answer for California families has been provided by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg who is sponsoring a bill which would enable California to join the 27 other states that have enacted meaningful autism insurance reform laws.”
The settlement was announced during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders where Unumb was invited to testify. A review by Autism Speaks of the settlement shows it presents a “Catch 22” for California families who have been paying health plans thousands of dollars a year in insurance premiums, yet are denied any coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA,) an evidence-based autism therapy, for their dependents with autism.
“Reading the fine print of the settlement revealed this: it requires ABA to be supervised by a licensed provider, but no license exists in California for behavior analysts (the professionals who supervise ABA,)” Unumb explained. “So under this agreement, Board Certified Behavior Analysts — the people who are trained to design and know how to supervise ABA — cannot do so, while people who happen to be licensed in something, but have no knowledge of behavior analysis, can.”
Legislatures in 27 other states have enacted laws stopping such discrimination by private insurance companies against families by requiring they cover autism therapies, such as ABA. This year alone, bills have been signed into law in Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia and Rhode Island, while in New York a bill has been voted out of the legislature and awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
The Steinberg bill (SB-166,) and a companion measure (AB-171) in the Assembly sponsored by Assembly Member Jim Beall, would require health insurance companies in California to provide coverage for behavioral health treatment and would require reimbursement for a “qualified autism service provider” including state or nationally licensed or certified providers, as well as the people they supervise. There would be no cap on benefits based on age, number of visits or annual benefits.
In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children – essentially mortgaging their entire futures.
In opposing state legislative actions around the nation, insurance companies have routinely cited cost impacts on individual policies that, after years of real life experience, prove to have been inflated. Based on the experience in states which have enacted autism insurance reform laws, the impact on premiums has ranged from 0.27 percent to 0.63 percent. The early intervention provided through autism therapy, meanwhile, is expected to reduce long-term costs to state and local governments for education and services.
“We applaud Senator Steinberg and Assembly Member Beall for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of California families,” said Unumb. “Autism Speaks is calling on the legislature to quickly pass these bills and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.”
More With Autism Votes
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.