Friday, February 27, 2009

Clay's Law Amendment Explanation

Today, we have had many discussions with Senator Howard Stephenson and Autism Speaks regarding the new amendments to Clay’s Law. Thus, the vote was delayed until this afternoon. We apologize to those supporters who came this morning for the vote. We have been working extremely hard to understand these amendments and how they affect access to insurance coverage for autism. We have learned that these amendments are necessary due to the imminent passage of HB 188, or the “Mandate Light” bill. Mandate Light is unique to Utah and will give employers the opportunity to choose which state mandates they carry in the policy and which ones they do not.

The new amendments to Clay’s Law now allow autism coverage to be included in the list of options along with all other state mandates. It will also be part of the “master-study list” for evaluation during the interim legislative session where the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of this mandate “option” will be evaluated.

We want to make it clear to everyone that the mission of the Utah Autism Coalition is to stand up and fight for all children with Autism Spectrum Disorders through a strong and unified grassroots movement. We do not support the direction the legislature is going with health care reform, but see several advantages of passing Clay’s Law with the new amendments rather than killing the bill and starting over next year.

Passing Clay’s Law will make the legislature take ownership of this issue. If Clay’s Law with the current amendments is deemed ineffective, they will have to act next year to make improvements.
It will give us more lobbying power next year with those legislators that opposed the original version of Clay’s Law.
The next phase of health care reform in Utah (including mandate light bill) will take steps to shift the decision-making over which mandates are included on a policy from the employer to the employee.

Earlier today, Autism Speaks pulled support of Clay’s Law, in large part, because they do not support “Mandate Light” health care reform and mandate “options” insurance policies. They do, however, support our personal decision based upon the health care reform bills that are being passed in Utah. They understand this is the first step in gaining support for autism insurance coverage in Utah due to the effect of the mandate light legislation. We respect Autism Speaks decision and we will continue to work with them to advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Utah and nationally.