Sunday, February 28, 2010

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by the grandparents of a little girl with autism. The organization "aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle."

Autism Votes is an Autism Speaks initiative focused on federal and state legislative advocacy.

Visit the Autism Votes Missouri page

HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius weighs in in an Op-Ed

From the Yahoo! Newsroom on October 5, 2009:

"Washington, DC — Last Wednesday, President Obama visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to announce the single biggest investment in biomedical research in American history. Among the $5 billion in grants he announced are new explorations of longtime research targets from cancer to heart disease. But the grants also include the largest-ever investment in an Obama administration priority that has so far gone mostly unnoticed: autism research."

Read more

I applaud President Obama for his strong approach towards finding answers for autism. The more we learn about the spectrum of disorders, the more we realize just how many people they affect. For families facing this, there are very few answers. We do not even know exactly where autism comes from or what may cause it. I feel this is very important to know, not only to give families a peace of mind, but so we can better understand, treat, and prevent the disorder. Lack of this information has already resulted in irresponsible, rash accusations that have jeopardized public health efforts. We need solid answers so that this does not happen again.

History of the ASD insurance mandate bill

Representative Dwight Scharnhorst filed a very similar bill in the 2009 legislative session. HB 357 was meant to "Require health carriers issuing or renewing a health plan to provide individuals younger than 21 years of age insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder". HB 298 was a very similar bill filed last year by Rep. Jeff Grisamore and discussions about the issue often paired the two bills together. The 2009 session saw the number of bills filed on the topic near double digits. The spark in interest was due to a national movement that is taking place, backed by advocacy organizations such as Autism Speaks.
The crux of the issue was in the fact that Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), argued by many in the medical profession to be the best treatment for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, is specifically denied by most insurance providers. Many families of children with autism are facing the choice between bankruptcy or forgoing treatment for their child. Insurance companies argue that ABA is educational as opposed to medical treatment, even though it is prescribed by physicians. In addition, as with any proposed mandate, they are concerned with the increase in premiums that could occur.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

House Passes bill to increase care for autistic children

Legislation originally drafted during last year's session (2009) has already made it one step closer to passage than it did the first time around. On February 18, 2010, the Missouri House passed HBs 1311 & 1341 by an overwhelming vote of 135-18. The bipartisan bills are sponsored by Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis and Rep. Jason Grill, D-Kansas City, and would require insurance providers to cover specific treatments that have been identified as the most beneficial to children with autism.