Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Step Closer - Comcast and NBC Universal

Last Friday, our friend Lou published this:

VICTORY! - Comcast/NBCU and ABA Coverage

If access to treatment for autism is of interest to you, that post is worth a read.  

Comcast and NBC Universal, with around 130,000 employees between them, have chosen to provide ABA coverage through their self-funded health plan.

If you don't work for either of those companies, you might not think this is so important.  In fact, every time a company chooses to provide an autism benefit, it's another step along the road to everyone getting coverage.  Some steps are bigger than others, but every one counts.  Some day, we'll be in a place where autism coverage is the industry standard.  

Several other companies have taken this step in the past few months:  American Express, Qualcomm,  and JPMorgan Chase.  Why did they do it?  I'm willing to bet that in most cases, you'll find employees speaking up for their kids behind the changes.  If you work for a company with a self-funded health plan that does not provide coverage and you want to change that, send us an e-mail and we'll help.  utahautismcoalition@gmail.com

The Utah Autism Coalition's main focus is to make it so that state-regulated plans in Utah provide this coverage like they do in 34 other states.  That would be a giant step.  In the mean time, all of you advocates out there should take heart from this news.  Speaking up really does make a difference. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Care about autism coverage? Here's the most important thing you can do right now

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams proposed a budget last week that includes coverage for autism through the county's self-funded insurance plan.  It's also a balanced budget with no new taxes.  You can read more about it here.

In that article, he's quoted as saying, "I am proposing to finance the decisions that must be acted on today to prepare for a tomorrow of our choosing."

That idea applies quite well to providing coverage for autism.  When a kid gets early intensive behavioral therapy, it can save local government from $900,000 to $1.5 million in special education services, long term care, etc.  That helps all Utahns.

The mayor's office had a press conference about it today, so it's in the news.  In addition to the story above, here are  links to more coverage from kutv and ksl.

This is a proposed budget...we need to let the Salt Lake County Council know that we think this is a good idea so they'll approve it.  If you think autism coverage is a smart idea, please go sign this petition.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 Summer Social Successful

The 2013 Autism Community Summer Social was a success, despite rain and winds.  
Batman wasn't the only superhero at the party.

Officials in attendance included: 
It was great to see lots of families there, having a good time. 

Big thanks to all our sponsors and vendors, including the Layton Home Depot, Chick-Fil-A, Munchkin Radio, Speaking on the Spectrum, Jump N Joeys, Butterfly Effects, Autism Journeys, Heroic, The Carmen B. Pingree School, and Wasatch Mental Health.

Monday, June 24, 2013

KUED Promo of UAC Summer Social

Click to View KUED Interview with UAC President, Jon Owen about the upcoming 
Summer Social Event on Thursday, July 11, 2013 
from 5pm-7pm at Sugar House Park. 

Be sure to RSVP for this event today!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Announcement: New UAC President!

It is with mixed emotions that I publish this post. Today I am resigning as the President of the Utah Autism Coalition. This experience has stretched and blessed me in ways I could never have imagined.  Serving alongside so many strong individuals has reassured me that there is so much good in this world, despite the serious challenges our community continues to face. As I move forward with new adventures, I am reassured by that fact that we will be led by the capable hands of Jon Owen, who has accepted the position of President of the Utah Autism Coalition.

Jon was born and raised in rural Tennessee. He has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Computer Science degree, with an emphasis on computer vision. While at the University of Utah studying computer science, Jon met his wife Juliette. The two of them moved to North Carolina where he developed computer games and she studied law and public policy. Upon her graduation, they moved back to Utah to raise their two sons. When their second son was diagnosed with autism around age 2, Jon became an active member of the Pingree Parent/Staff Association and the Utah Autism Coalition. We are fortunate to have him offer his time and talents to lead this community forward in accomplishing our goal of ending health insurance discrimination against children with autism in Utah.When I asked Jon for his thoughts on taking on the role of UAC President, he provided this comment:

"I can vividly recall three moments in our journey with autism.  The first was the diagnosis. The second was learning that there were evidence-based treatments that could help our son. The third was learning that our insurance wouldn't cover any of the treatments.  Except for other parents in the autism community, I haven't encountered anybody who can really understand what those moments felt like to me.  UAC has given me a way to do something for my son and the thousands of other people like him.  What we're fighting for is one small change to our state's rules that will make a huge difference for very little cost.  As a result of Mirella's leadership, we are well-positioned to push for that change."

I have undying confidence that through our relentless efforts, individuals with autism in Utah affected by autism will be able to access the medical treatments that will allow them to live extraordinary lives. I want to thank this community for all of your support and I look forward to serving alongside you in the future. I will remain an active member of the Utah Autism Coalition and ask each of you to join me in congratulating Jon and offering him your full support as we persevere on behalf of individuals and families affected by autism in Utah.


Mirella Petersen

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 Summer Social

WHEN: Thursday, July 11, 2013 5:00pm until 7:00pm

WHERE: Sugar House Park: 1400 East 2100 South, SLC UT. Sugar Beet Pavilion – Located near the amphitheater in the southeast corner of the park.

WHO: Families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder and their legislators.
WHAT: Meet your politicians and share your concerns for families and individuals affected by autism. Enjoy some fun with bounce houses, face painting, clowns, sensory activities and crafts, a balloon launch, food and much more!

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/652268628122027/

Please help us by passing this information along!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Autism Blog Post from Utah Congressman Jim Matheson (UT-04)

Last night we had a great event put on by The Home Depot for Utah families affected by autism. Congressman Jim Matheson was kind enough to come by and meet our kids and hear our stories. This morning he sent me the following blog post about his experience at this event that I'd like to share it with you:

"Wednesday, I was honored to meet with Utah families and children affected by autism. With one in 47 children in the state diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Utah has one of the highest autism rates in the country. In my role as a representative of our state, it is a priority to me to dedicate time and efforts in Washington to raising autism awareness and supporting research to understand and treat the disorder.

During my time in this job, it has been a privilege to have met with countless Utah families, teachers and health professionals and to have heard their perspective and their stories about raising children with autism. I have visited the special education classrooms where dedicated teachers work with children who have been diagnosed as autistic, as well as met with families desperately searching out medical options for their children. There is no substitute for hearing these firsthand accounts and they have shaped my understanding of autism as well as underscored the work we have to do together to better understand the disorder and to manage both short and long term opportunities for these children in our state. Specifically, I have learned that we must focus efforts on analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, prioritizing research, and tailoring paths for learning in order to help these families create a future for their children.

As a member of the Autism Caucus in Washington, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who to seek more answers about this disorder, how it affects families and what we can do to support children living with autism. I support responsible and reasonable federal funding for medical research which has long proven the key to breakthroughs in treatment and effective care.  Late last year I joined my House colleagues on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to ask questions of a panel of experts regarding research findings of increased rates of autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one percent of the population between the ages of 3 and 17 has an autism spectrum disorder.

That being said, awareness is only the first step. We must take thoughtful, collaborative measures to improve the diagnoses and treatment of autism."


Jim Matheson

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Autism Friendly Home Depot Kids Workshop

Come celebrate Autism Awareness with The Home Depot!

Bring the family and come to this FREE hands-on, autism friendly, workshop. All kids get to keep their craft and receive a FREE Kids Workshop Apron, commemorative pin and certificate of achievement.

Wednesday May 1st, from 6-8pm
Home Depot on 4681 S. 4000 W., West Valley City, 84120

Also, representative Jim Matheson will be stopping by between 6 and 7pm to meet Utah autism families and participate in this event.
Contact Karla Pardue with questions.
kpardue688@hotmail.com / 801-688-0257

Please RSVP by Tues. April 30 to secure your spot.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Update on SB55

SB55 was substituted this morning with a bill that appropriates more money to the pilot program created last year and increases the age cap from age 5 to age 7. Insurance coverage for autism in Utah will not happen this year.

Thank you all for your advocacy and please thank Senator Shiozawa for his incredibly hard work on this initiative. He is dedicated to working on insurance coverage for autism again next year and has done a tremendous job advocating for our children.

Mirella Petersen
President, Utah Autism Coalition

Monday, February 25, 2013

Utah Senators: Vote YES on S.B. 55!

A petition for SB55 has been created. Please sign it, share it and get 10 more people to do the same!

Monday, February 11, 2013

ACTION ALERT FOR ALL ADVOCATES: Ask Your Senator to Support SB.55

UTAH! This Is Your Year-Ask Your Senator to Support SB.55

Take Action On This Issue

A new autism insurance reform bill with a new sponsor is on the move in the Utah Legislature. Sponsored by Senator Brian Shiozawa of Cottonwood Heights, SB.55 has been voted out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee and now heads to the Senate floor. It will require state-regulated health plans to cover ABA along with speech, occupational and physical therapy. Let your Senator know you want the state with the highest autism prevalence rate in the nation to stop being one of the few without autism insurance coverage. Urge your Senator to support SB.55! Utah's 1 in 47 Can't Wait!

Take Action

Complete the form at the following link to take action: Utah! This Is Your Year-Ask Your Senator to Support SB.55 

1) Complete the 'take action' message in the link above.
2) Share it.
3) Post Done.
4) Get at least 10 of your friends, family and neighbors to do this too


Thursday, February 7, 2013

SB 55 cleared committee today - onto the Senate floor!

The hearing was standing room only.

In a vote of 5-2 SB 55 cleared the Senate Business and Labor Committee and is on to the Senate Floor for a vote next week.

This wouldn't have happened without all the hard work of the Utah autism community and everyone who showed up at the hearing today.  We've been referred to as an "autism rally" and a "sea of red".  Way to show up!

To read/watch some of the media stories on this committee hearing click the links below.

Salt Lake Tribune - Bill that would mandate Utah coverage for autism treatment clears committee

ABC4 - Utah health insurance companies one step closer to having to pay for autism treatment

KSL - Lawmaker's bill would require insurers to cover autism treatments

Fox13 - Bill would require insurance coverage for autism treatments

KUTV2 - Bill Mandating Coverage Of Autism Treatments Passes Committee

Fox13 - Bill requires insurance for autism treatments

We will try and update this list as new stories about this hearing are posted.

Friday, February 1, 2013

SUPPORT SB55 - Utah Autism Insurance Bill!

Utah: New Year, New Bill, Same Goal

NEW YORK (February 1, 2013) -- Autism Speaks today formally endorsed S.55, the new Utah autism insurance reform bill, sponsored by Dr. Brian Shiozawa, a Salt Lake Republican Senator and past president of the Utah Medical Association. Utah has the highest incidence of autism in the nation, yet is one of only 18 states not to require state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

The Shiozawa bill would cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) up to $50,000 a year for children through age 8, then up to $25,000 a year though age 17. The bill would take effect July 1 of this year.
“"We commend Senator Shiozawa for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Utah families in urgent need of insurance coverage,"” said Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. “"Autism Speaks joins Utah's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass S.55 and join the growing majority of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism."”

According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control study, 1 in every 47 Utah children has autism, the highest rate in the nation and significantly higher than the 1 in 88 national average. The University of Utah calculated that between 2002-2008, autism prevalence increased twice as fast in Utah than nationally (157 percent versus 78 percent.)

An autism insurance reform bill enacted last year created a test state program for about 300 children funded through state Medicaid funding and voluntary contributions from the private sector. The Utah Autism Coalition has estimated over 18,000 Utah children have autism.
According to reports in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Medicaid program was hindered by low reimbursement rates which limited the number of providers, while the private sector contributions were slow to materialize. In the meantime, it cited 20 cases of parents surrendering their children to the state because they could not afford to provide them the autism treatments they needed.
Shiozawa's bill would require state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including speech, occupational and physical therapy as well as pharmaceutical benefits.
Small business would be granted a waiver if they can demonstrate the autism coverage increases their premiums over 2.5 percent over a 12-month period. Actual experience in other states which have enacted autism insurance reform show the impact has been under 1 percent.