It's time for Medical Insurance Companies in Oregon to cover Autism Treatment

Autism Health Insurance Reform: Action Alert – Autism Awareness Day 3/22; Support Unfair Trade Practice Reform

Summary:

  • Come to Autism Awareness Day in the Oregon Capitol – Friday, March 22nd
  • Brief Update on Autism Health Insurance Reform
  • Ask your legislators to support Unfair Trade Practices Act Reform

There is strong interest in passing our legislation this year, and I hope to be able to provide an update with more details within the next couple of weeks.

Come to Autism Awareness Day in the Oregon Capitol – Friday, March 22nd

We’re making great progress on passing Autism Health Insurance Reform in this year’s legislative session.  (I’ve been relatively quiet for the last couple of months because we’ve been busy working on the policy details, and have been asked not to announce our progress until we’re finished).

As a sign of our progress, Governor Kitzhaber has declared Friday, March 22nd, as “Autism Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day.”  In his declaration, Governor Kitzhaber wrote:  “Autism spectrum disorder lasts throughout a person’s life, though symptoms can improve over time. Accurate, early detection; appropriate medical and mental health interventions, including applied behavior analysis; and special education services can help.”

Governor’s Proclamation:

ASD_Awareness_Day_Proclamation

(click on image for a full-size version)

A number of organizations – including Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of Oregon – will host informational booths in the capitol lobby, to inform legislators, staffers, and other visitors about autism and the work of our organizations.

In addition, we encourage everyone interested in passing Autism Health Insurance Reform to come to the capitol to show your support, and speak with your legislators.

Agenda:

  • 9:00 am: Gather in Room 350 for information and prepare for office visits with our legislators. Get an update on the legislation and tips for meeting with your legislator. This room will be available to us all day.
  • 9:30 am- 12 noon: Visits with our legislators. Please contact your legislator in advance to schedule a meeting – you can find their contact information at:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/
  • 9:30 am – 12 noon:  Information tables will be open in the Capitol Galleria.
  • 10:30 am: tour of the capitol building
  • 1:00 pm:   RALLY on the Capitol steps!
  • 2:00 pm:  tour of the capitol building (repeated)

Please come to show your support – and encourage your friends and family members to come as well.

If you are coming and would like help scheduling meetings with your legislators, please reply to this e-mail.

Brief Update on Autism Health Insurance Reform

Work continues on Autism Health Insurance Reform in this year’s legislative session.  In all, four autism bills have now been filed:

  • SB365 (endorsed by Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of Oregon)
  • SB381 (a licensure bill for ABA providers)
  • SB364 (an alternate version of the autism mandate)
  • HB2897 (filed by Rep. Buckley and Sen. Edwards, based on the legislation we proposed last year)

There is strong interest in passing our legislation this year, and I hope to be able to provide an update with more details within the next couple of weeks.

We’re also making progress on our other bills to help us enforce our existing rights under the Insurance Code.  In particular, we had a great hearing last Friday on SB416, which empowers the Insurance Division to enforce existing rules governing External Reviews.  We will have some additional meetings on this bill in the coming weeks, and are optimistic that we can pass new legislation to strengthen this critical consumer safeguard.

Ask your legislators to support Unfair Trade Practices Act Reform

One of the biggest challenges we face in defending our existing rights to fair insurance coverage is the fact that Oregon has given the Insurance Industry an exemption from the Unfair Trade Practices Act.  The definition of the “Goods and Services” in the scope of the act (ORS 646.605(6)(a)) is long, comprehensive – and ends with the phrase “but does not include insurance” – so if your used car dealer or the kid selling lemonade on the street corner cheats you, that’s an “Unfair Trade Practice” – but if your Insurance Company cheats you, it isn’t.

This makes it impossible for the Attorney General to prosecute insurers who engage in inappropriate business conduct, and very difficult for consumers to enforce their own rights in court:  in state court, it is generally impossible to recover your attorney’s costs in a suit against an insurance company, even if you win, and there is no way to win a damage award for violations of the law.  If your insurance contract itself is illegal, it may not even be possible to challenge the illegal clauses in state court.

There are numerous bills in this year’s legislative session that seek to address this through different methods, including HB2525, HB3160, SB512, SB513, SB514, and SB686.  These bills are very similar, and are all led by a common team of advocates and legislators – any one of them would be a big help to us in holding insurers accountable.

Please contact your state Senator and Representative to ask them to support Unfair Trade Practices Act reform.

To find out who your Senator and Representative are, you can look them up on line at http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/ or write me an e-mail and I can help.

I have included a sample e-mail message at bottom – but please personalize the message as much as possible, to show the impact that this issue has on you.

Sincerely,

Paul Terdal,

Parent Volunteer

 

Sample E-mail Message:

[Please feel free to modify this, or insert details about your own story]

 

I’m writing to ask you to support legislation to remove the Insurance Industry’s exemption from the Unfair Trade Practices Act.  (HB2525, HB3160, SB512, SB513, SB514, and SB686).

Currently, there’s very little a consumer can do to hold the insurance industry accountable for violations of the law.  There is no private right of action for consumers to enforce the insurance code, and even the Attorney General is barred from enforcing the law.

Passing these bills will help restore the balance, and ensure that consumers can fairly access the insurance coverage that they have paid for when they need it.

Thank you for your support.

[add your name and physical mailing address]

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