[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Missouri gov signs bill mandating autism coverage
By JIM SALTER
TOWN AND COUNTRY, MO.
Tracy Fritz recalled the shock of learning her 3-year-old daughter, Louisa, had autism. Even worse, when the family found a therapy that had potential, insurance wouldn’t cover it.
For some Missourians, that is about to change. Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday signed a bill making Missouri the 21st state to require insurance coverage for some children with autism-related disorders. The ceremony was at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in suburban St. Louis, one of several hospitals that pushed for the measure.
The law, effective Jan. 1, seeks to help families that have maxed-out credit cards, refinanced homes and exhausted their savings to pay for intensive therapy for autistic children. Under the measure, group insurance policies regulated by the state must cover up to $40,000 a year for diagnosis and behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 18.
The bill specifically requires coverage of a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA. Nixon said experts believe ABA is a vital tool in helping children with autism and related disorders.
Fritz and her husband, Barney, are both physicians, so they could afford the ABA therapy doctors at St. John’s recommended for Louisa. A year after the diagnosis, Fritz said the change in the little girl, now 4, has been remarkable.
“When we began she couldn’t say mommy or daddy,” Fritz said. “She was unable to communicate even her most basic needs.”
Now, Louisa speaks and interacts with her preschool playmates and siblings — she happily chased her big sister around the hospital atrium after the ceremony.
“Now, the words mommy and daddy are music to our ears,” Fritz said. “Now, instead of Barney and I being fearful of her future, we’re hopeful.”
Autism is a broad term used to describe a spectrum of neurological disorders in which children often struggle with communication, behavior and social skills. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says autism affects about 1 out of every 110 children in the U.S.
Nixon said the bill makes Missouri a national leader in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. For example, unlike other states, Missouri’s bill has a cost-of-living escalator. The $40,000 cap could rise every three years, based on inflation.
“With the bill I’m signing today, parents of children with autism — who have faithfully paid their insurance premiums — will finally get the coverage they are entitled to,” Nixon said.
The mandate would cover about one-fourth of Missouri’s population — mainly those receiving health insurance from small- to medium-sized employers. Large employers who insure themselves are federally regulated. And people with individual insurance policies would have an option — not a requirement — to buy autism coverage.
Businesses with 50 or fewer employees could get an exemption from the autism insurance mandate if they can show it caused their premiums to rise by at least 2.5 percent over the previous year.
An actuarial analysis last year by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman — conducted for the advocacy group Autism Speaks — estimated that an autism insurance requirement would result in a less than 1 percent increase in the cost of premiums in Missouri. But some in the insurance industry said the increase could be closer to 3 percent.
“No one knows, but it will have a cost to the employers buying coverage for their employees,” said Brent Butler, government affairs director for the Missouri Insurance Coalition.
Butler said the measure that passed the Legislature was a compromise.
“It does have some protections that the costs will be kept in check, and it does require that the folks providing the services to these children are credentialed,” Butler said. “We wanted to make sure the people were qualified and appropriate.”
The bill’s sponsors include two lawmakers with autistic relatives. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, has an autistic son, Stephen. The 6-year-old autistic grandson of Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Manchester, died of epilepsy in 2007.
“Stephen and the thousands of children like Stephen have led us to this place,” Schmitt said at the bill-signing.
The Autism Community Is Not The Autistic Community
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.