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.