Saturday, November 17, 2007

Insurance Legislation to be Introduced in Michigan

The last three or four paragraphs of this post comes straight from a email I received via a forward from a representative of the Autism Society of Michigan (ASM). The email was about the insurance legislation that will benefit autism families in Michigan. The bill is to be introduced in December of this year.

I think it would be great news for autism families in Michigan if this legislation passes. As of now, families who have insurance are having trouble getting coverage for various types of expensive therapies (speech, physical, occupational, etc.) for children with autism.

Three years ago I decided to pass on Play Therapy for my son because it would cost us $300 per month for four, hour-long sessions with a therapist (who would have come to our home). The therapy center told me that I could not use insurance (of the type my family has through my husband's job) to pay for the therapy. As a result, I decided to spend money on much needed respite (babysitting) instead.

While I'm all for this legislation, I am not sure that it will pass. Politicians (senators, representatives and the governor) will most likely consider what the financial impact of this legislation will be before accepting or rejecting the bill. Michigan is suffering economically right now. Manufacturers and jobs have been leaving the state for years and the financial impact has been catastrophic for the state.

This fall, the two houses and the governor had so much trouble passing the annual budget that it made the national news. Taxes for services such as bronzing baby shoes and tanning were approved. The budget finally passed, but not before a state government shutdown became a near reality. The last time I heard, the budget is still being contested.

My biggest concern is funding for public schools and public universities. My family has received an abundance of help from both the local public school and the nearby university (which has provided indirect help through a vast supply of volunteers for various special needs causes). I would hate to see the budget cut for both institutions because money went elsewhere.

I realize that others may feel differently and I welcome comments that both agree and disagree with my opinion. As long as the comment is respectful (in terms of not calling me or people who feel the same way idiots), I will publish it.

From ASM:

Autism insurance legislation will be introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives in early December! Representative Kathy Angerer will be introducing two bills requiring insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. These Bills are companion bills to Senate Bills 784 & 785 that were introduced into the Michigan Senate by Senator Tupac Hunter in September. A press conference is scheduled for Dec. 4th at 12:30pm in Room 426 of the Capitol Building in Lansing. The press conference will announce the introduction of the legislation. Anyone who wishes to attend the press conference is welcome! Please come and show your support.

A hearing in front of the Health Policy Committee is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 9am. The hearing will be held at:

MI House of Representatives
House Office Building
Room 519
124 N. Capitol
Lansing, MI 48933

Everyone who can come to the hearing is encouraged to attend! We need a strong showing to let our Representatives know how desperately this legislation is needed!! This is also the time to get those personal stories written and sent to us. Each letter will be attached to the written testimony at the hearing. Our email address is: autisminsurancemi@sbcglobal.net. Please include your address so a copy can also be hand-delivered to your local Representative's office in Lansing on the day of the hearing. We have worked very hard to get these bills introduced, but we need your help to ensure they pass and become law! Your legislator’s need to hear that Autism Insurance Coverage is an important issue to you and your family. Together we can pass this important legislation!

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