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

Autism Health Insurance Reform: SB365 Unanimously approved by Senate – House to vote next week!

Contents:

  • Update on SB365 – SB365 Unanimously approved by Senate – House to vote next week!
  • Update on SB414 – Approved by House – on to the Governor!
  • ACTION ALERT:  if you haven’t had the chance yet, please ask your State Representative to support SB365

Update on SB365 – SB365 Unanimously approved by Senate – House to vote next week!

This morning (Saturday), the Oregon Senate voted UNANIMOUSLY to support SB365, the Autism Health Insurance Reform bill!

Senator Bates, our Chief Sponsor, gave a great introduction to the bill, followed by congratulatory speeches by Sen. Hass and Sen. Edwards – our Chief Sponsors in 2012 and 2011.  My family and I then listened from the balcony as Senator after Senator answered the roll-call vote by declaring “Aye!” or “Yes!” in support of the bill.  Not one single Senator voted against our bill.

We also picked up two new Co-Sponsors, as Sen. Devlin and Sen. Johnson joined Sen. Bates, Sen. Edwards, and Sen. Hass with this extra level of endorsement.

The bill will be introduced into the House on Monday, with a formal vote on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thank you to everyone who has written your legislators about this bill!  The unanimous vote of support is extra important in demonstrating that insurance coverage for medically necessary treatment of autism isn’t a “controversial” proposition but is something that the entire Legislature is firmly behind.  It protects us against possible future attempts to roll back coverage (which we have already been warned could happen in 2015), and sets the stage for any of our efforts to broaden coverage further – or pursue other legislative efforts in other areas to help the autism community in the future.

Update on SB414 – Approved by House – on to the Governor!

SB414 – our insurance restitution bill – was also approved by the Oregon House of Representatives on Friday, with a 48 to 12 vote (80%) in favor.

SB414 empowers the Insurance Division to “Seek restitution on a consumer’s behalf for actual damages the consumer suffers as a result of the insurer’s violation … of the Insurance Code or applicable federal law….”  Currently, the Insurance Division can issue a fine (payable to the state treasury) – but has no authority to order compensation directly to a consumer.

Since the Oregon Senate had already approved SB414, it is now headed to the Governor for signature.  The restitution authority will take effect on January 1, 2014.  We look forward to working with the Insurance Division as it establishes policies and procedures to carry out this new authority.

ACTION ALERT:  if you haven’t had the chance yet, please ask your State Representative to support SB365

As you can see from our unanimous vote in the Senate, our e-mails to legislators really do make a difference.  We’re hoping for an equally strong showing in the House to demonstrate that Oregon’s legislature is very firmly behind us.

If you haven’t had a chance to do it yet this week, please contact your State Representative to let him or her know that SB365, the Autism Health Insurance Reform bill is coming for a final vote – and to ask for their support.

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.

——–

Thanks for your help!

 

Paul Terdal

 

Sample E-mail Message in support of SB365 – Autism Health Insurance Reform:

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

To:

Your own State Representative.  You can find his or her e-mail address at:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

Subject:

Please support SB365 – Autism Health Insurance Reform

Body:

Dear Representative (insert your legislator’s name here):

Please support SB365 – the Autism Health Insurance Reform bill.

Autism is a neurobiological condition that now affects 1 in 88 children nationally; the incidence has risen dramatically in the past 20 years – there are now nearly 9,000 Oregon schoolchildren receiving special education services for autism.  Autism is characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors; many severely impacted individuals suffer lifelong disability, especially when the condition is untreated.

While Oregon law already requires insurance coverage for treatment of autism, SB365 establishes requirements for insurer approval and management of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – a leading autism treatment recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General, National Institute of Mental Health, American Psychological Association, and many other professional associations.  It also establishes a Behavior Analysis Regulatory Board to license and regulate providers who can deliver the national standard of care at an affordable cost.

[Insert your personal story here about why this legislation is important to you!]

SB365 was unanimously approved by the Senate on Saturday – following unanimous do-pass recommendations in both the Senate Health Care and Human Services committee and the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.  Advocates from the autism community have worked closely with insurance industry representatives and government officials to develop this bill under the leadership of Sen. Bates.  Thirty-three other states have already enacted similar legislation.

Please join me – and your Senate colleagues — in supporting this critical bill so that every Oregonian with autism can access medically necessary care for this treatable condition.

Thank you for your support.

[add your name and physical mailing address]

 

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