Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another amendment forces us to withdraw support for SB43



SB 43 has been stripped of its effectiveness to stop autism insurance discrimination

SALT LAKE CITY (March 10, 2009) – The Utah Autism Coalition, the largest autism advocacy group in Utah, announced today they are withdrawing their support for Senate Bill 43, formerly known as Clay’s Law.

Senate Bill 43 was significantly altered to become an amendment to the HIP Act (Health Insurance Pool) that creates a limited insurance policy to cover the treatment of autism spectrum disorders, when obtained prior to a child’s birth. Senate Bill 43, formerly known as Clay’s Law, originated as an autism insurance mandate to require private insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders up to age 17. SB 43 was amended before the third senate reading to a mandate option, and has now been amended even further as a HIP offering.

“Clay’s Law” no longer exists in this legislative session. Our elected officials have failed to act upon the cries for help from their constituents to provide desperately needed treatment for their children, and the pleas of taxpayers for financial relief to the state,” said Leeann Whiffen, mother of Clay Whiffen, who requested that Clay’s name be removed from the bill. “Senate Bill 43 is now a far cry from the financially and morally responsible bill we created. The window of opportunity for optimal treatment will likely close for many children who currently have autism across our state while we agonizingly wait for lawmakers to do the right thing.” The latest version of SB43 will only benefit children who have yet to be born, and only if their parents purchase a policy before 3 months of age.

Autism Speaks, the largest national autism organization, joins the Utah Autism Coalition in withdrawing support for SB 43. "It's the No. 1 thing we hear from parents - what's more difficult than knowing there's an effective treatment for your children, but you can't afford to offer it to them because it's not covered by insurance?" said Elizabeth Emken, the group's vice president of government relations. “Autism Speaks and the Utah Autism Coalition call on Utah’s legislators to join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.”
The Utah Autism Coalition will continue advocating for autism insurance coverage in Utah until it eventually becomes law.

About Autism
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Utah Autism Coalition
The Utah Autism Coalition, founded in 2008, is an independent group of parents and professionals dedicated to increasing autism awareness and advocating for legislation to support the autism community in Utah. To learn more about the Utah Autism Coalition, please visit www.utautismcoalition.blogspot.com.

# # #