Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Legislative Session Summary and Upcoming Changes

The session is over, and the five bills we were watching have been passed and signed into law. These laws went into effect this past Tuesday, May 12th:

  • SB292 Achieving a Better Life Experience Accounts
  • SB246 Licensing of Autism Providers
  • HB199 Pilot Program for Assistance for Children with Disabilities and Complex Medical Conditions
  • HB399 Guardianship of Adult Children with Disabilities (rolled into HB380 Disabled Adult Guardianship Amendments)
  • SB270 

Passed in 2014, SB57  will begin to affect certain plans on the Utah insurance market on January 1, 2016.

Does that mean that you'll be covered?

It’s complicated

Insurance is either state- or federally-regulated. Self-funded plans (used by some large employers) are subject to federal rules, rather than state rules. Federal rules do not currently require autism coverage. Employers who self-fund can voluntarily choose to cover autism.

State-regulated plans depend on the state where they are issued. A company that operates in multiple states may purchase its health plan in another state and provide coverage for its Utah employees through that plan. Georgia just became the 41st state to enact an autism coverage law.

Utah’s law requires plans on its individual and large group markets to provide a specified minimum level of coverage. Small group plans are not affected.

Medicaid is a federally funded healthcare program for families and individuals with low income and limited resources. Beginning sometime around October 2015, Medicaid will cover autism for Utahns up to age 21 who meet the income/resource qualifications.  It's expected that more than 4,000 Utah youth will be able to receive services.

Utah's Medicaid autism waiver program helped a lot of kids - hundreds.  Kids currently on the waiver will be able to stay on it until they age out, but the program will not be accepting new enrollees.

The UAC will host a public meeting in September to discuss the coming changes and what Utahns need to know.  If you'd like to receive notice, please sign up for our mailing list by clicking here.

The only way to know if your private health plan covers autism (or will) is to contact your plan administrator.  If you find out that your plan is self-funded and won't cover autism, you might be able to change that.  If you're interested in exploring that possibility, send us an e-mail at utahautismcoalition at gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 bills, 3 days to go

Here's a 2014 video from House Republicans about the ABLE Act, which was signed into law this January after a massive bipartisan effort:


This federal law enables states to implement ABLE accounts, but each state has to act.  Senator Weiler's SB292 would do that, but it's coming down to the wire.  It was passed by the Utah Senate and was sent to the House last night.  The problem is that there are a LOT of bills this session and only three days until the session ends.

We've been talking about 4 other bills for this session.  As of Monday night, all of those bills are in the chamber they need to reach to pass.  The Senate bills are now in the House, and vice versa.

You can help your legislators know what's important to you, their constituent, by e-mailing or calling them right away.  The contact info can be found here.

Today (Tuesday), legislators are in committees all day.  They'll be back in session tonight at 5:00 and will be working hard through Thursday.

Monday, March 2, 2015

2 more bills of note


Last week, we wrote about 3 bills to check out.  Here are two more you might want to know about.  Check out the following and if you have something to say about them, please contact your legislators.  Contact information can be found here.  

1) HB399  Guardianship of Adult Children with Disabilities, by Rep. Rebecca Edwards

This bill focuses on uncontested guardianship for young adults 18-22, and tries to motivate parents to complete the process in a timely matter.

Most parents don't really have to worry about whether their kids will become independent.  For some kids it doesn't happen, and they need a guardian to make decisions for them.  Assuming that responsibility can be hard.  If it needs to be done, the cost and complexity of the process shouldn't stand in the way.

Currently, the filing free for an uncontested guardianship is $360.  Attorney fees can cost thousands beyond that.  This bill reduces the filing cost to $35, and streamlines the process.
It is currently being updated to include input from disability advocates to ensure that the rights of the disabled person maintain adequate protection.

2) SB270 Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments, by Sen. Stuart Adams

It's well established that the earlier a child gets help, the better in every way.  The need for early intervention services in Utah is well beyond the availability.  There are more than 350 kids on the waiting list for state-funded autism pre-schools in Utah.  Last year, 70 kids aged out before getting services.
This bill makes the Carson Smith Scholarship available to kids beginning at age 3.  The current minimum age is 5.