Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Medicaid Autism Waiver open enrollment November 17th to December 7th

The Department of Health and Department of Human Services would like to share the following updates on the Medicaid Autism Waiver program:

An open enrollment period will be held November 17th to December 7th, 2014. During the open enrollment period we will accept applications online, by mail or via fax. The application can be found online here.  The application can be completed online, or printed and completed. Should you need to have a paper copy mailed to you please contact us as soon as possible.

Please note that even if you have previously submitted an application, you must submit another application to be eligible for this open enrollment period. 

If the number of applicants exceeds the number of available openings, the enrollees will be selected through a randomized process. Waiver openings are assigned based on geographical areas within the state.
Should you have any questions please contact Sarah Chung, Autism Waiver Liaison @ 801-538-6357 or visit our website.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What is the ABLE Act?




The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act would level the playing field for individuals with autism (and other disabilities) and their families to save for disability-related expenses. Just as families can put away savings in tax-exempt accounts for children to go to college, the ABLE Act would allow such accounts for individuals with disabilities to cover their future education, housing, transportation and related expenses.

ABLE Accounts would resemble existing 529 college savings plans and would supplement, not replace, benefits provided through Medicaid, private insurance or employment.

Learn more at Autism Votes.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Survey Response: Eric Irvine, Candidate for Utah House 10

Eric Irvine
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Eric Irvine, candidate for Utah House District 10.

Survey Response: Sabrina Petersen, Candidate for UT Senate 4

Sabrina Petersen
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Sabrina Petersen, candidate for Utah Senate District 4.

Survey Response: Barry Short, Candidate for UT House 72

Barry Short
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Barry Short, candidate for Utah House District 72.

Survey Response: Peter Kraus, Candidate for UT House 40

Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Peter Kraus, candidate for Utah House District 40.

Survey Response: Nihla Judd, Candidate for UT House 75

Nihla Judd
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Nihla Judd, candidate for Utah House District 75.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Survey Response: Doug Owens, Candidate for U.S. House 4

Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Doug Owens, candidate for U.S. House District 4.


Doug Owens: 
My wife Cynthia and I are the parents of four wonderful children, one of whom has high-functioning autism.  Autism is not an "issue" for us.  We have lived and continue to live the concerns of parents with children on the spectrum.  When elected, you can count on me to work tirelessly to ensure that all individuals on the spectrum and their families have the resources they need to address the condition and flourish in our society.

WanderingWandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel. 

In a UAC survey, 20% of respondents reported wandering incidents that involved police.  Another 41% had wandering incidents, but no police involvement.  It's a concern for 81% of respondents.  

In a recent policy change, DOJ grants are allowed to be used to provide tracking devices for vulnerable populations (including those with autism).  This same funding pool is used for many high priority law enforcement needs, such as bulletproof vests.  Avonte's Law (S 2386), introduced in 2014, would allocate $10 million specifically for tracking devices.  

Would you support Avonte's Law?

Doug Owens: 

Yes.  When elected to Congress, I will strongly support Avonte’s Law and would also be proud to introduce the House version of this bill. I understand that Wandering is one of the greatest fears for families of autistic individuals. The option of tracking devices would not only help reduce the stress families face when their 
child wanders, but would also reduce the cost and length of potential searches. The $10 million in grants provided in this bill would help make tracking devices an accessible option for working families. Utah’s incidence of autism, which is one in 54 children, is higher than the national average, and I would fight 
hard for Utah to receive a larger number of these grants.

Education: Education is a priority for many UAC members. Kids on the spectrum often require special education resources.

What do you see as the current state of the Utah education system, including Special Ed, and what steps would you support to improve it?

Doug Owens:
Ensuring that every child receives a quality education is one of my highest priorities. I understand the unique needs and demands involved with educating autistic children, and I am committed to supporting measures that provide them with the best education possible. All educators, not only special education teachers, are vastly under-valued and under-paid, and we must figure out ways to bring more money into the Utah education system that will provide our educators with the resources and flexibility to address the most pressing needs 
of their students. This is especially true for special education needs. As a Member of Congress, I will work to ensure any that revisions to the No Child Left Behind Act would increase funding for and reduce the burdensome requirements for improving special education.

Autism CARES: The rate of autism continue to rise, and is now estimated at 1 in 68 nationally.  The rate in Utah is 1 in 54, the second highest in the country after New Jersey.  Understanding autism is important to the U.S. and especially so to Utah.  The Combating Autism Act of 2006 was set to expire September of 2014-thankfully the Autism CARES Act was signed into law August 8 which extends the Combating Autism Act.  This bill will:  Dedicate another five years of federal funding for autism activities at an annual level of $260 million.  Designate an official in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the IACC's strategic plan.  Direct HHS, with input from the autism community, to examine the demographics and transition needs of adults on the autism spectrum.   

Would you (or did you) support Autism CARES?

Doug Owens:
Research is a crucial component of developing the most effective therapies and treatments for the entire autism spectrum. I would have proudly co-sponsored and voted for the recently passed Autism CARES Act. With Utah having the highest rate of autism per capita in the nation, the reauthorization of these programs is vital to Utah. Through these programs we can work toward discovering the causes of autism, identifying cases as early as possible, improving awareness and services, and overall improving the quality of life for those with autism. Though this reauthorization is a critical step, I would also work to make sure that these programs are fully funded through the appropriations process.

ABLE Act: For many parents of disabled people, the fate of their children after they are gone is a major concern.  Currently, the best way to provide for their children after they are gone is to establish a Special Needs Trust, which can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees to set up.

A cost-effective way to begin saving is proposed in the ABLE Act (HR 647).  The legislation would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to allow use of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.  As is now done for college tuition, the bill would make tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, medical, and transportation.  The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided trough private insurance, the Medicaid program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.

Would you support the ABLE Act?

Doug Owens:
Yes.  I understand how expensive it can be to care for a child with autism. I know that those expenses don’t end when the child becomes an adult. The ABLE Act, which I would proudly cosponsor, would help individuals save money to cover expenses like housing, transportation, education, and other types of necessary assistance. These tax-exempt saving accounts will help reduce the financial stress and difficulties autistic individuals and their families face when planning for their future. Most importantly, these accounts would not impact eligibility for disability benefits. Individuals with autism and their families need the financial flexibility and freedom to live a life that suits them best.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Autism CARES Act passes Senate and heads to the President's desk.


The U.S. Senate has approved the Autism CARES Act (HR 4631), which would dedicate $1.3 billion in federal funding for autism over the next five years. The bill was introduced and passed across party lines, and now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Thank you, legislators!

Read more about it here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Survey Response: Clare Collard, Candidate for Utah Senate 12

Clare Collard
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Clare Collard, candidate for Utah Senate District 12.

Survey Response: Rep. Lee Perry, Utah House 29

Rep. Lee Perry
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Rep. Lee Perry, of Utah House District 29.

Survey Response: Dorothy Engelman, Candidate for Utah House 74

Dorothy Engelman
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Dorothy Engelman, candidate for Utah House District 74.

Survey Response: Eileen Lentz, Candidate for Utah House 35

Eileen Lentz
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Eileen Lentz, candidate for Utah House District 35.

Survey Response: Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, Utah House 37

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, of Utah House District 37.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Survey Response: William Both, Candidate for Utah House 22

Bill Both
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from William 'Bill' Both, candidate for Utah House District 22.

Survey Response: Rep. Patrice Arent, Utah House 36

Rep. Patrice Arent
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Rep. Patrice Arent, of Utah House District 36.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Survey Response: Lee Anne Walker, Candidate for Utah House 46

Lee Anne Walker
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Lee Anne Walker, candidate for Utah House District 46.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Survey Response: Senator Jim Dabakis, Utah Senate 2

Sen. Jim Dabakis
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Senator Jim Dabakis, candidate for Utah Senate District 2.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Survey Response: Alena Balmforth, Candidate for Utah House 47

Alena Balmforth
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Alena Balmforth, candidate for Utah House District 47.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Survey Response: Steve Olsen, Candidate for Utah House 9

Steve Olsen
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Steve Olsen, candidate for Utah House District 9.

Survey Response: Christine Passey, Candidate for Utah House 44

Christine Passey
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Christine Passey, candidate for Utah Chamber House 44.

Christine has been a core part of the Utah Autism Coalition for many years and was vice president in 2013/2014, providing crucial leadership and advocacy that led to the passage of SB57.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Survey Response: Jani Iwamoto, Candidate for Utah Senate 4

Jani Iwamoto
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Jani Iwamoto, candidate for Utah Senate District 4.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Survey Response: Alain Balmanno, Candidate for Utah House 32

Alain Balmanno
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Alain Balmanno, candidate for Utah House District 32.

Survey Response: Bob Buckles, Candidate for Utah House 13

Bob Buckles
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Bob Buckles, candidate for Utah House District 13.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Survey Response: Fred Cox, Candidate for Utah House 30

Fred Cox
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Fred Cox, candidate for Utah House District 30.

Survey Response: Nick DeLand, Candidate for Utah House District 42

Nick DeLand
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Nick DeLand, candidate for Utah House District 42.

Survey Response: Glenn Wright, Utah House 54

Glenn Wright
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Glenn Wright, candidate for Utah House District 54.

Survey Response: Zach Robinson, Candidate for Utah House 49

Zach Robinson
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Zach Robinson, candidate for Utah House District 49.

Survey Response: Rep. Brian King, Utah House 28

Rep. Brian King
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Representative Brian King, Utah House District 28.


Survey Response: Rep. Marie Poulson, Utah House 46

Marie Poulson
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Representative Marie Poulson  of Utah House District 46.



Survey Response: Bruce Cutler, Utah House 44

Bruce Cutler
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Bruce Cutler, candidate for Utah House District 44.

Survey Response: Wayne Stevens, Candidate for Utah Senate 26

Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Wayne Stevens, candidate for Utah Senate District 26.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Survey Response: Ron Hilton, Candidate for Utah House District 37

Ron Hilton
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Ron Hilton, candidate for Utah House District 37.

Survey Response: Amy Morgan, Candidate for Utah House 11

Amy Morgan
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Amy Morgan, candidate for Utah House District 11.

Survey Response: Donna Taylor, Candidate for Utah House 20

Donna Taylor
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Donna Taylor, candidate for Utah House District 20.

Survey Response: Emmanuel Kepas, Utah Senate District 15

Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Emmanuel Kepas, candidate for Utah Senate District 15.

Survey Response: Senator Karen Mayne, Utah Senate District 5

Sen. Karen Mayne
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. Senator Karen Mayne, of Utah Senate District 5, gave us this straightforward response:

I have voted YES on all legislation to promote, help, and aid the Autistic Community. I will continue to vote in the positive for all legislation that will help the children and the loving families of Autism. I am there!!!

Senator Mayne has been a staunch advocate for our community and has the record to show it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Autism CARES passes House, coming up in the Senate

Less than 24 hours after being approved by the House, legislation renewing the federal government's funding response to autism for another five years cleared Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  It heads now to the Senate floor.

Read more here and please get involved by talking to your Senator.  Here is a really easy way to do it.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Survey Response: Chrystal Butterfield, House 38 primary candidate

Candidates for the June 24th 2014 primary elections were given the opportunity to respond to 3 questions relating to autism.  The following responses are from Chrystal Butterfield, running for Utah House District 38.


1)  Insurance Coverage:  SB57 was passed in the 2014 legislative session.  It goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and among other things, will require individual and large group plans to cover a limited amount of behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 9.  The bill has a sunset clause which will cause it to expire on January 1, 2019.  
Would you support renewal or expansion of SB57 if the costs prove to be manageable?

Chrystal Butterfield:


I most definitely would support Renewal of SB57 before it expires!!

2)  Wandering:  Wandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel.  There are also promising technologies, such as smartphones, GPS, and Bluetooth, which can help with tracking these individuals.  

Would you support efforts to:
  • better understand the extent of the wandering problem in Utah
  • promote training for emergency personnel 
  • identify technological solutions and help make them affordable for caregivers
Chrystal Butterfield:

There is nothing more stressful for a parent than a lost or missing child except one that may have a underlying disability and may not be able to communicate or understand the significance of danger. I as a parent and also as a volunteer that has gone out on many searches for missing and lost children would love to see more training,technology and a better way to keep our children safe. 

3) Housing and Employment:  When autistic people transition out of the public school system, many of them need help with housing and employment.  According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, over 5,000 Utahns received services, and 80% of them had an intellectual disability.  Another 1,892 Utahns are on the waiting list.
Would you support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities for individuals with autism?
Chrystal Butterfield:


Lets face it we as a parent are not going to be around forever it is something that we don't like to think about.
I know that there are some great programs out there that will help with Adult Transition but we can do better. We really need to educate our kids and prepare them for the adult world . With better education and programs and housing programs that are geared for self sufficiency We will have a more successful future.

Survey Response: Dr. Ray Ward, House 19 primary candidate

Candidates for the June 24th 2014 primary elections were given the opportunity to respond to 3 questions relating to autism.  The following responses are from Ray Ward, running for Utah House District 19.


1)  Insurance Coverage:  SB57 was passed in the 2014 legislative session.  It goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and among other things, will require individual and large group plans to cover a limited amount of behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 9.  The bill has a sunset clause which will cause it to expire on January 1, 2019.  
Would you support renewal or expansion of SB57 if the costs prove to be manageable?

Ray Ward:


Yes.

2)  Wandering:  Wandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel.  There are also promising technologies, such as smartphones, GPS, and Bluetooth, which can help with tracking these individuals.  

Would you support efforts to:
  • better understand the extent of the wandering problem in Utah
  • promote training for emergency personnel 
  • identify technological solutions and help make them affordable for caregivers
Ray Ward:


Yes.

3) Housing and Employment:  When autistic people transition out of the public school system, many of them need help with housing and employment.  According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, over 5,000 Utahns received services, and 80% of them had an intellectual disability.  Another 1,892 Utahns are on the waiting list.
Would you support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities for individuals with autism?
Ray Ward:
Probably, but I would need to understand better what the current rules are and what it is about them that makes them not work for those whose disabilities stem from Autism before having a clear opinion.

Survey Response: George Chapman, Senate 2 primary candidate

Candidates for the June 24th 2014 primary elections were given the opportunity to respond to 3 questions relating to autism.  The following responses are from George Chapman, running for Utah Senate District 2:

1)  Insurance Coverage:  SB57 was passed in the 2014 legislative session.  It goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and among other things, will require individual and large group plans to cover a limited amount of behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 9.  The bill has a sunset clause which will cause it to expire on January 1, 2019.  
Would you support renewal or expansion of SB57 if the costs prove to be manageable?

George Chapman:

I support/ed Sen Shiozawa's bill to add insurance coverage for autism. I/we put one of our children in an autism kindergarten class (she is not autistic but they needed to start mainstreaming and she is empathetic enough to handle it). She later became a teacher teaching autistic children.
2)  Wandering:  Wandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel.  There are also promising technologies, such as smartphones, GPS, and Bluetooth, which can help with tracking these individuals.  
 Would you support efforts to:
  • better understand the extent of the wandering problem in Utah
  • promote training for emergency personnel 
  • identify technological solutions and help make them affordable for caregivers
George Chapman:

Wandering should not be a problem with cellphone and watch band locators. Maybe a charity that offers such a solution. When my father and mother had that issue, we used cellphones to keep an eye on them.
3) Housing and Employment:  When autistic people transition out of the public school system, many of them need help with housing and employment.  According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, over 5,000 Utahns received services, and 80% of them had an intellectual disability.  Another 1,892 Utahns are on the waiting list.
Would you support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities for individuals with autism?
George Chapman:
I would support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities.
In short, I will look to Sen. Shiozawa for direction on these issues.  I agree with his opinions.  I do believe that cost to society can be significantly decreased with proper and effective education at an early age.  My daughter's teaching experience proves it.

You can Google chapman4senate2 to see more of my opinions and issues.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Enrollment in the Utah Medicaid Autism Waiver program is open until May 18th

With the passage of HB88, the Medicaid Autism Waiver is no longer a pilot, but is a permanent waiver program.

The program is currently accepting applications until May 18, 2014.  Applying is easy and can be done on-line here.  If you know someone whose child might qualify, please let them know about the program.
Program Information
  • The Medicaid Autism Waiver is a program to assist children age 2 through 6 who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • The waiver provides in-home services using treatment methods that have been proven to be effective for children with ASD
  • Approximately 290 children will be served by the Medicaid Autism Waiver each year
  • Openings on the waiver are distributed based on geographical areas within the state using population figures from the 2010 US Census (ex. If an area contains 10% of the state population, it will receive 10% of the waiver openings.)

Requirements
  • Be between 2 and 6 years of age
  • Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis from a clinician who is authorized within the scope of their licensure
  • Only the child’s income and assets are used to determine eligibility for the program
  • All other factors of Medicaid eligibility must be met (ex. US Citizen or qualified alien, etc.)

Thank you, Representative Menlove, for sponsoring HB88.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Message from Representative Jim Matheson




Dear Friend,
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new report, once again, placing Utah’s Autism rate above the national average. The report identifies one in 54 Utah children with autism, whereas the national average is one in 68. Nationally,boys are five times more likely to be identified with autism than girls.
Early detection of autism can be crucial for intervention and treatment, as early treatment can dramatically improve outcomes. Some early signs of potential autism that parents may want to look for include:
• No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
• No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
• No babbling by 12 months
• No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
• No words by 16 months
• No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
• Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

As your representative in Congress, and a member of the Autism Caucus in the House of Representatives, I recognize the need to support programs for research and treatment of autism, as well as the importance of improving training and support for individuals with autism and their caregivers. In addition, I support responsible and reasonable federal funding for medical research which has long proven the key to breakthroughs in treatment and effective care. That is why I cosponsored and supported the passage of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011. This bill, which was signed into law in 2011, coordinates and intensifies federal research on autism, promotes early detection and awareness, and provides responsible funding for autism research.
However, research into future breakthroughs is only part of the solution. Approximately 1 percent of the U.S. is thought to have an autism spectrum disorder. Caring for a child with autism can be expensive, and these costs do not simply end when the child becomes an adult – far from it. Many of these children will be, or are, becoming adults. These Americans typically have a higher unemployment rate than others across the country, despite wanting to work. This can only further exacerbate the cost issues associated with autism.
In order to help alleviate some of these difficulties, I am a proud cosponsor of The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (H.R.647). This bill allows the creation of tax-exempt ABLE accounts. Similar to a college savings account, ABLE accounts would work to assist individuals to save money to pay for some of life’s expenses including education, transportation, housing, and assistive technology. Allowing for tax advantaged savings accounts can not only reduce difficulties on individuals, but also on family members and caregivers, as they would not count against an individual’s eligibility for disability benefits. Under current law, individuals can lose these benefits if their savings accounts exceed $2,000, which can be a major disincentive for seeking gainful employment or responsibly saving money for the future. This bill would eliminate that disincentive and hopefully better allow for individuals with autism to live their lives as they see fit.
While I recognize that legislative efforts are only a beginning to addressing the challenges that autism poses for individuals, families, and caregivers, I am hopeful that we can take a valuable step forward in improving the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

Sincerely,


U.S. Representative
4th District of Utah

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Utah's Autism Insurance Bill Signed into Law

Photo courtesy of Heather Zahn Gardner

On Thursday, April 3rd, Governor Gary Herbert signed SB57 into law, making Utah the 35th state in the country to enact autism insurance reform.

The law requires many state-regulated health plans to cover behavioral health treatments through age 9, speech, occupational and physical therapy, and psychological/psychiatric care.  It will apply to insurance plans beginning January 1, 2016.

The Utah Autism Coalition thanks Senator Brian Shiozawa for championing this cause with intelligence and determination.  It's been a six year effort to reach this point, and we thank all of the advocates who have made it happen, especially past UAC presidents Leeann Whiffen and Mirella Petersen.  Autism Speaks has been an invaluable resource to us.

At the same ceremony, Governor Herbert signed HB88 into law, turning the state's autism treatment pilot into an on-going program.  The UAC thanks Representative Ronda Menlove for all her efforts on the behalf of the autism community over her career.  Her voice will be missed in the legislature.

We thank Governor Herbert for his stalwart support of the autism community and the Utah legislature for listening to our stories and acting on them.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

UAC VP moving on

From our former Vice President, Christine Passey:

"It is with sadness that I announce I am stepping down from my position as the Vice President of the Utah Autism Coalition.  Working alongside so many amazing and dedicated advocates, fighting for the future of children with autism, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I am stepping down in order to put my full energy into running for the Utah State House of Representatives for District 44.  Being part of the UAC, and going through the roller coaster of working on one of the most difficult pieces of legislation in Utah, inspired me to run for office.  I know what it is like to be told “that issue is too big to tackle” and ignore it and tackle it anyway.  Our State faces many challenges that need to be addressed head on and I am dedicated to being an advocate and making a difference.

Thank you for your support."

We are sad to see Christine go but wish her the best as she runs for office.  

Autism insurance reform won't be complete in Utah until all medical necessity is covered by health insurance.  Given the current state of things, we'll need to focus on other issues for the near future.  We have many ideas about what those issues should be, but if you have suggestions, please send e-mail to utahautismcoalition@gmail.com with the subject line "UAC 2014+".