[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
NC Families Demand Better Autism Insurance At Capital Rally
July 15, 2014
RALEIGH, NC (July 15, 2014) — With time running short in the current legislative session, families from around North Carolina rallied at the Capitol today to demand the state Senate consider an autism insurance reform bill already passed twice by the House.
At the rally, Autism Speaks President Liz Feld issued an open letter to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of North Carolina to drop its opposition and cover autism treatment as is done in 37 other states. During the time North Carolina lawmakers have battled over the bill, five other states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted insurance reform laws, while another six states have strengthened their existing laws.
“We are facing aggressive and expensive opposition for this coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield and your team of lobbyists,” Feld wrote in her letter to BCBS President J. Bradley Wilson. “Historically, BCBS has been committed to supporting the ‘most vulnerable’ in our society.
“Those living with an autism spectrum disorder need your commitment to include them,” Feld said, in urging BCBS to support the bill. “North Carolina residents should not suffer without autism insurance, while residents in 37 other states receive fair coverage.”
The open letter coincides with an aggressive newspaper ad campaign launched this week by Autism Speaks taking on BCBS and urging passage.
The North Carolina House of Representatives twice since 2013 has passed legislation that would require state-regulated private health insurers to cover autism treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as speech, occupational and physical therapies. BCBS continues to argue that ABA is “experimental” and should be provided in schools at taxpayer expense.
In the House, Speaker Thom Tillis has championed the bill, leading its passage in that chamber and working with Senate leadership to move the bill in that chamber. In a recent poll commissioned by Autism Speaks, 82 percent of North Carolinians supported autism insurance reform.
The original bill, HB.498, was approved 105-7 last year by the House then referred to the Senate Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Apodaca. The bill was never heard.
This year, the House added the autism bill into a Senate regulatory reform bill, SB.493, and returned it to the Senate. The measure was referred to the Rules and Operations Committee, also chaired by Apodaca.
July 15, 2014
Mr. J. Bradley Wilson
President. CEO Blue Cross Blue Shield
Dear Mr. Wilson
On hahalf of the mare than bi mo families in
I am writing to urge vour support for the auushnin
-Marih Caralina Senate
n penin in
We are facing adoressive and expensive opposition for this coverage from blue Cross
Blue Shield and your team of lobbyists. Historically, BCBSNC has been committed to
supporting the “most vulnerable” in our society. The generosity of the BCBSNC Foundation
is well known and your leadership has demonstrated your awareness and compassion for
supporting those who need it most. Those living with an autism spectrum disorder need
your commitment to include them. North Carolina residents should not suffer without
autism insurance, while residents in 37 other states receive fair coverage.
I know BCBSNC says the cost of coverage is too high. The actual cost in other states
states where vou already provide coverade – has averaded cenis per member de
Autism is the fastest growing neuro-developmental disorder in the United States, with CDC
national prevalence estimates at 1 in every 68 children. North Carolina exceeds the national
prevalence rate with a diagnosis of 1 in every 58 children. These numbers are staggering.
in many Cases, an auusm dlagnosis comes Wii addlional medical Complicatons Inciuoine
a seizure disorder, Gl complications and severe self-injurious behavior. These co-morbidi
ties make up the daily life of a child affected by autism. The cost of inaction is just too higr
both emotionally and financially for our families and all of North Carolina.
Since 2005, Autism Speaks has invested over $500 million in its mission, the majority in
bio medical research into tho causes, treatments and a cur for auism.In fact we have
funded millions of dollars in research at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University and other
North Carolina institutions and have provided financial support for many other programe
supports and services here. While we continue to research the cause of autism, we know
that Applied Behavioral Analysis- ABA Therapy – is the most effective and efficacious
treatment that exists today for the disorder.
ABA Therapy is an evidence based, medically prescribed treatment. There is no doubt
and should be no argument about that. It is endorsed by the U.S Surgeon General, the
American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Mental Health and many other
leading national health agencies. Blue Cross Blue Shield covers autism treatment,
including ABA therapy, in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Despite claims to the
contrary, ABA is not “experimental” or *unproven.” In fact, over forty years of scientific
evidence has documented the elicacy orAl
Early intervention is critical to progress for a child diagnosed with autism, yet access to
care is limited in North Carolina. Necessary treatments can average over $60,000 a year.
costs that are out of reach for tens of thousands of families living here. Children who
receive ABA Therapy are 50% more likely to be mainstreamed in a public school, thus
reducing their long fem health care costs
At Autism Speaks our mission is to improve the lives and futures of all who struggle witt
autism. Please join us in this mission. The people of North Carolina need us – right nox
1 East 3ard. Street, ath Floor, New York, NY 10016 p: (212) 252-8584 f: (212) 252-8676 http://www.AutismSpeaks.org