Friday, October 14, 2016

Survey Response: Kathie Darby Candidate for UT House 9

Survey Response:  Kathie Darby Candidate for UT House 9

Candidates for the November 2016 elections were given the opportunity to answer a few questions relating to autism.  The following are Kathie Darby's responses.

Health Insurance:  In 2014, the Utah legislature passed a law requiring some state-regulated health insurance plans to cover autism, including a limited amount of therapy for children ages 2-9.  This law went into effect in 2016 and will sunset in 2019.  Would you consider renewing it or expanding it in any way, such as increasing age or coverage limits?

Kathie Darby:  I would definitely vote to renew it and be open to expanding it based on the circumstances, maybe a provision for case by case analysis.

Medicaid:  In the past year, Medicaid has begun covering autism up to age 21 for people who meet the income requirements.  What is your position on Medicaid expansion?

Kathie Darby:  The expansion should have been passed in it’s entirety in the last session.  It makes good sense in many ways, including people with disabilities and children; and autism is an important part of it.

Education:Special Education is very important to students who need it.  Utah “needs assistance” when it comes to meeting the requirements of IDEA.  What would you change about the Utah education system, both in general and special education?

Kathie Darby:  I would increase spending for education in general, not by increasing taxes but by spending the available money more efficiently.  I would propose to pay teachers more, provide ALL needed supplies and reduce class size.  Special needs will always be important to me, fitting right into the plan.

Financial Planning:  Utah passed legislation in 2015 to help disabled Utahns and their families plan for the future through ABLE accounts (similar to 529 college savings plans).  They are not yet available.  Do you support efforts to make sure that disabled Utahns can access ABLE accounts?

Kathie Darby:  I would definitely support efforts to give Utahns with disabilities access to this important account program.  I don’t understand why it is taking so long to provide this, but would investigate.

Police:  People with autism may have difficulty understanding and complying with police orders.  They may also be prone to meltdowns or be overwhelmed by lights and sirens.  Two examples of where this can lead are reported here and here.  Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained officers are recognized to be the most capable of responding to situations involving the mentally ill, and Utah has an excellent CIT program.  The Utah 911 board has considered adopting a system (Smart911) that, in addition to other benefits, would help ensure that CIT officers are dispatched when needed by letting citizens pre-register with 911 and sharing their information with dispatchers and officers when a call is made.  What are your thoughts on the CIT program?  Would you support the adoption of a system like Smart911?

Kathie Darby:  I think this is something that has been needed for a very long time and would support the adoption of this program as quickly as financially possible.  Many issues could be resolved easier and more safely with proper training.

Personal experience:  The autism rate in Utah is 1 in 54.  Your family and social circle doesn’t have to be very large before it includes someone with autism.  If you want to share any personal or professional experience with autism, please do so.  

Kathie Darby:  As a member of the Board of Directors at Enable Utah, a 501c3 organization helping people with disabilities for nine years and working with Special Olympics for 20 years; I have many great experiences with a lot of wonderful people on the spectrum.  I started 40 years ago volunteering with people with disabilities when I lost a child due to birth defects.  It changed my life and focus.  I will always be an advocate; as a Senior Operation Manager at IRS, I hired as many people as I could with various disabilities, even helping win the Governor’s Award.