Autism Addressed by Lawmakers

John Karebian, Michigan Nurses Association Executive

Director, released a statement this week on legislation approved by the legislature and sent to Gov. Snyder to mandate insurance coverage for children with autism in Michigan:

“Our nurses are hopeful that Governor Snyder will listen and realize

that the need for mandated insurance coverage for children living with

autism is a must in Michigan. Nurses see children who have been

diagnosed with autism from a young age, and they know the difference

having access to quality care can make in their lives. We hope the

Governor will make a safe and healthy choice for all Michigan children

and citizens.”

The MNA statement comes just days after bills mandating state insurers cover autism treatment and diagnosis are approved by Michigan lawmakers. Legislation is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder after clearing the state House on Thursday with broad bipartisan support.

“It feels wonderful,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who has a daughter with autism and has been a high-profile backer of the bills. “I would place this far and away the most important public policy initiative that I’ve ever worked on and I doubt anything will ever top it.”

The bills — SB 414, 415 and 981 –would require insurers to provide coverage of autism diagnosis and treatment, while directing the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department to create an autism coverage incentive program through which insurance carriers and third-party administrators could seek reimbursement for paid claims.

The House version included an amendment preventing insurance companies from raising rates and still receives reimbursements for covering autism treatments.

The state Senate, which had approved the bills earlier this month, quickly signed off on the House changes, sending the package to Snyder. The governor called for the coverage in his State of the State address and is expected to sign the package.

The coverage is estimated to cost about $15 million a year at first, and Calley estimated the figure could climb to $40 million in five years. But he believes it is money well spent.

Two bills were approved 91-19, and the third with support from five fewer representatives.