Thursday, July 10, 2014

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.

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?

Bruce Cutler:    
The challenges that families experience with Autistic (or Asberger) children are tremendous. These families need all the support they can get. I have great compassion for not only the parents but the entire family of those who have this condition. We, as a society, have come a long way in treating those with these life challenges. One of my top priorities is to help every individual, regardless of the challenges they may have, to be productive and useful members of society. Those with these conditions should be able to receive appropriate health care, including behavioral therapy.

I am particularly concerned about these families because I have both friends and family members with these challenges and I admire and want to help them in appropriate ways.

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. 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
Bruce Cutler 
I would certainly support this. I know that the Utah Legislature through USTAR already supports many innovative programs, particularly in the areas of medical research. We should look at ways that we can leverage the dollars already being spent on USTAR and other state programs to accomplish these goals.

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?

Bruce Cutler:   
The Utah Education System is challenged because of the number of children in the system relative to the number of taxpayers supporting them, because of the larger families in the State of Utah. We need to continue to grow the economy of the state of Utah to bring in more high-paying jobs with the associated income taxes. All additional revenue sources should be investigated and evaluated. In order for this state to move forward, we must ensure a quality education for everyone, regardless of the physical or mental challenges they may have.

While not yet and expert on the Special Ed program, from the experiences of members of my own family, the paperwork that is required to qualify for this program is burdensome. We need to work to streamline this program and reduce the perceived as well as real roadblocks so that those that need the help get the help. I will continue to research ways to improve the education system in the State of Utah.

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?

Bruce Cutler: 
Yes, I fully support this initiative. I would also say that we should support helping all those who have disabilities, whatever they are, to become productive and independent members of society.