SPRECHEN ZEE DEUTSCH? WE NEED YOUR HELP!
HOW GREAT IS JIM CARREY?

PENNSYLVANIA AUTISM BILL

PaHere's another news report on the Pennsylvania autism insurance bill.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Map, News) - Parents of autistic children would be able to pay for behavioral therapy and related services with private health insurance starting next year, under legislation that strikes a compromise between the insurance industry and advocates for the disabled.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed the measure, which also would give the state Insurance Department power to approve the proposed merger of Pennsylvania's two largest insurance companies. The Senate on Wednesday night approved the bill 49-1 to send it to Gov. Ed Rendell, who said he would sign it.

"It is a national model, a gold standard" for the coverage of autism-related treatments, Sen. Jane Orie, R-Allegheny, said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Read the full article HERE.

Comments

DD

As a current PA resident & mom of a son with dev. delays, speech issues & ASD behaviours (due to the PA pollution not vaxes) ..... I'm not impressed.
while it sounds as it will "help" us parents, Slick Eddy Rendell rarely does anything that will not benefit himself in the end. His actions are very much smoke & mirrors.
How about pollution control on the all the coal burning power plants NOW !!
PA's coal has the 2nd highest mercury content of any other state w/ the exception of TX. Since this is a strong UNION state, the rights of the whiney Union workers will override the health rights of the residents. The unions have vowed to fight every bill to reduce emissions & possibly close plants for cleaner burning power sources. People fight tooth & nail AGAINST wind mills, etc...
It's awful. PA has an incredible amount of damaged kids. I moved to PA from a major SW city & I was floored at the damaged kids here.
** $1.7 billion price tag for unnecessary mercury rule **
" HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry said the Legislative Reference Bureau is doing the right thing by not publishing the Department of Environmental Protection’s final mercury rule until a Senate committee is given an opportunity to fully review the costly and unneeded regulation."
http://www.pachamber.org/www/news/2007/1.7mil_mercury.php

"EPA’s own Utility Air Toxics Study stated that mercury emissions from coal-fired electric generating units are the “hazardous air pollutant of greatest potential public health concern.

Mercury from bituminous coal-fired power plants oxidizes, becomes water soluble and then deposits locally, creating toxic “hot spots” of contamination. DEP’s own analyses reinforce this conclusion. Eight years of data collected at two different locations in the commonwealth for the department by Penn State University show a 47 percent higher concentration of mercury at the site proximate to coal-fired power plants (Cambria County) as compared to that site removed from such plants (Tioga County).
Despite these facts, power companies continue to lobby fast and furious against mercury pollution controls in Pennsylvania, with unsubstantiated claims concerning costs, technology and competitiveness. They have threatened to shut down power plants or dramatically increase rates if the legislature fails to heed their demands, and they have said taking state action against mercury would cost our commonwealth and hurt our competitiveness. Just the opposite is true.

http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=512494

"The commonwealth has 36 coal-fired power plants with 78 electric generating units that represent 20,000 megawatts of capacity. These units accounted for approximately three-fourths of the more than 5 tons of mercury emitted into the air from all contamination sources in the commonwealth, ranking us second only to Texas in terms of total mercury emissions.

According to the latest Toxic Release Inventory report, which EPA released April 12, Pennsylvania moved from third to second in the total amount of EGU-specific mercury emissions in 2004. The commonwealth had been third behind Texas and Ohio, respectively."

http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/news/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=507034

**Residents warned of mercury found in fish
By Mary Ann Thomas
FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Sunday, November 4, 2007

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_536252.html

Maybe Sick Eddy got some "inside info" about possible class-action lawsuits against all the pollution in the state.

I have NO info of any such lawsuits but would not be surprised.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?


End of Story...

I believe we have permission to forward this letter. In light of all the arguing, Speaker O'Brien has asked all parties to move on.


July 12, 2008

Mr. Robert C. Wright
Co-Founder, Autism Speaks
2 Park Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Dear Bob:

We have a collective mission to create a world in which persons with autism have every opportunity to participate fully in society, to live meaningful and independent lives, to receive the respect they deserve and to have the supports necessary for them to reach the innate potential we know them to have. It's never been an easy mission, and it doesn't often permit us the luxury of a pause in the action to reflect on success.

I think last week's signing ceremony for Pennsylvania's Act 62 of 2008 compels us to pause, ever so briefly, to consider the statute and some of its history.

First, Act 62 is good, solid legislation that meets several critical goals for our community. We can all agree with that conclusion and, in many respects, it is the only conclusion that matters.

Second, people rarely accomplish important things without struggle, and Act 62 is no exception. When we first announced introduction of HB 1150 in our Capitol's rotunda 15 months ago, we understood that its passage was never assured and that the path would be replete with hurdles. It surely was. But we jumped the hurdles (and, when I refer to "we," I mean the broad coalition that included Pennsylvania families and advocacy groups, Pennsylvania's Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman, her staff, my staff, our allies in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and national advocacy groups like Autism Speaks).

Finally, and most painfully, "we" had some disagreements in the final days of this battle. It would serve no purpose to enumerate or detail those divergent positions here. However, while I had hoped that Governor Rendell's signature on Act 62 would end not only the legislative fight but also the internecine friction, that seems not to be the case.

In recent days, I have seen what appears to be an escalating war of words between and among members of Pennsylvania's advocacy community and the staff and volunteers of Autism Speaks. Most recently, Autism Speaks posted on its web site a revisionist account of the history of Act 62 with a comparison of versions of the bill that implicitly suggests that the amendments on which I insisted were immaterial. The posting is offensive, and I could readily point to its inaccuracies and misinterpretations. However, that is not the purpose of this letter. Bob, our collective mission is in no sense complete. We have many more goals to meet, and our efforts will be far more effective if we work together. Our time, resources and energy are not infinite.

At every step, we must ask if our efforts are helping children and adults with autism, and we must reject every distraction to that mission. We must not waste time and energy on unproductive and wholly retrospective debates. Therefore, with this letter, I am asking that you instruct the staff of Autism Speaks to refrain from further public discussion about the disagreements of the last several weeks and to remove from the Autism Speaks web site the materials I addressed above. And, by copy of this letter, I am asking that the Pennsylvania autism community similarly refrain from additional public recrimination.

It is time for us again to direct all of our passion, energy and love for persons with autism to our shared goals for their well-being. To do otherwise would be to let them down.

Very truly yours,
Dennis M. O'Brien The Speaker

cc: Pennsylvania Autism Community (via e-mail)


Kelli Ann Davis

To "the Rest of the story"

Thank you for this additional information.

What Jim says coincides with my own personal experience in regards to working alongside Elizabeth, Shelley, and Stuart during the CAA process and with Peter Bell and Alison Singer during more recent DC proceedings.

I couldn't agree with Jim more about the need to focus on the fact that many individuals contributed to the success of the bill and that it is a positive step forward for all the children of PA!!!

Best and Kudos to everyone involved in this great success!

Kelli

The rest of the story...

Here is some clarification of the issue from Jim Bouder, one of the key players in Pennsylvania.

****

Friends:

I’ve been asked by many of you to say something about the situation that has arisen within the autism community in Pennsylvania. The situation is that together we have achieved this marvelous victory. Whatever differences we had in the past over strategy and tactics, those differences have resolved themselves in our joint accomplishment.

I believe, as a starting point, there are three facts we can all acknowledge: (1) Autism Speaks' actions helped facilitate the necessary release of HB 1150 from the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee and (2) Pennsylvania's parents and advocates succeeded in providing Speaker O'Brien with the additional grassroots support he needed in order to make the necessary changes to the legislation, and (3) HB 1150, the strongest autism bill in the nation, was signed into law by Governor Edward G. Rendell yesterday as Act 62 of 2008. If we can all take a step back and recognized that 1 + 2 = 3, then we can begin moving on together toward bigger and better things. While we can and probably will continue to struggle with the details surrounding 1 and 2, we should all be able to agree that getting to 3 is a very, very good thing.

There are many, many people who deserve our thanks - first and foremost to Speaker O'Brien, who continues to advocate for our children in Harrisburg with unequalled zeal, and his staff who did such a fine job supporting the Speaker's efforts behind the scenes. Also to Estelle Richman, who has quickly become a national leader in the quest to meet the needs of children with autism and, of course, Governor Rendell who has made passage of this legislation a priority for his Administration, and to those in the Departments of Welfare, State, and Insurance that devoted so much time to help us achieve our goals. In the Senate, Senator Orie is well deserving of our thanks, as is Senator White and his Chief of Staff, Joe Pittman, who also worked hard to make yesterday’s event a possibility. To my Vista family, you all have been remarkably supportive with both advice when I needed it and with patience at the times when this issue required my full attention. To Cindy Waelterman and Karen Woodings who did such a fine job getting the message out to the grassroots at the 11th hour. To Eric Scott who gained a grasp of the issues so quickly and provided much-valued assistance as we engaged in difficult negotiations with HB 1150's opponents. To all who submitted comments to HC4 or testified at the April 1 hearing. To every parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, neighbor, and advocate that picked up their phone or sent an email or a fax to your legislator, great thanks belongs to you too.

Over the course of the past year, I have developed friendships with four people who comprise the backbone of the Autism Speaks Government Relations team in Pennsylvania. I deeply appreciate the year I've spent working with Eric Settle. Eric is a skilled lobbyist and I learned much from him - much that I hope to take to my next project. I sincerely hope our paths cross again in the not-so-distant future. Stuart Spielman has been a consistent and thoughtful sounding board and his feedback increased the quality of my technical filings and testimony offered in support of HB 1150. Anyone who questions Stuart's integrity simply doesn't know Stuart. Shelley Hendrix taught me much about the formerly unfamiliar territory of managing a grassroots push. She championed Louisiana's counterpart to or legislation and it became law exactly one week before Governor Rendell signed HB 1150. Her commitment to children with autism is unquestionable. Without doubt, Elizabeth Emken had become a valued friend and ally whose vision, in many respects, runs parallel with mine. Her drive to see our nation become a more hospitable place for people with autism is admirable. They are much deserving of all of our thanks and I look forward to working with them in the future.

And last but certainly not least, I thank my family for their support and patience as I joined you all in doing this good work.

HB 1150 being signed into law yesterday was a day worth celebrating. Pennsylvania's families and policymakers working together with Autism Speaks for more than a year to advance HB 1150 to a place where its opponents no longer had any credible excuses to let it die. We answered every question, we jumped through every hoop, and we cleared every obstacle. HB 1150 becoming law is an achievement that we have much to take pride in.

Going forward, we all need to remember the collaborations that got us here and we need to rebuild them and make them stronger. I intend to do what I can over the course of the coming months to encourage a dialogue that promotes our coming together as friends and, eventually, as a collaborative unit.

If you took the time to pass along my action alerts, I ask that you forward this message as well.

With kind regards,

Jim Bouder

The rest of the story...

Here is some clarification of the issue from Jim Bouder, one of the key players in Pennsylvania.

****

Friends:

I’ve been asked by many of you to say something about the situation that has arisen within the autism community in Pennsylvania. The situation is that together we have achieved this marvelous victory. Whatever differences we had in the past over strategy and tactics, those differences have resolved themselves in our joint accomplishment.

I believe, as a starting point, there are three facts we can all acknowledge: (1) Autism Speaks' actions helped facilitate the necessary release of HB 1150 from the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee and (2) Pennsylvania's parents and advocates succeeded in providing Speaker O'Brien with the additional grassroots support he needed in order to make the necessary changes to the legislation, and (3) HB 1150, the strongest autism bill in the nation, was signed into law by Governor Edward G. Rendell yesterday as Act 62 of 2008. If we can all take a step back and recognized that 1 + 2 = 3, then we can begin moving on together toward bigger and better things. While we can and probably will continue to struggle with the details surrounding 1 and 2, we should all be able to agree that getting to 3 is a very, very good thing.

There are many, many people who deserve our thanks - first and foremost to Speaker O'Brien, who continues to advocate for our children in Harrisburg with unequalled zeal, and his staff who did such a fine job supporting the Speaker's efforts behind the scenes. Also to Estelle Richman, who has quickly become a national leader in the quest to meet the needs of children with autism and, of course, Governor Rendell who has made passage of this legislation a priority for his Administration, and to those in the Departments of Welfare, State, and Insurance that devoted so much time to help us achieve our goals. In the Senate, Senator Orie is well deserving of our thanks, as is Senator White and his Chief of Staff, Joe Pittman, who also worked hard to make yesterday’s event a possibility. To my Vista family, you all have been remarkably supportive with both advice when I needed it and with patience at the times when this issue required my full attention. To Cindy Waelterman and Karen Woodings who did such a fine job getting the message out to the grassroots at the 11th hour. To Eric Scott who gained a grasp of the issues so quickly and provided much-valued assistance as we engaged in difficult negotiations with HB 1150's opponents. To all who submitted comments to HC4 or testified at the April 1 hearing. To every parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, neighbor, and advocate that picked up their phone or sent an email or a fax to your legislator, great thanks belongs to you too.

Over the course of the past year, I have developed friendships with four people who comprise the backbone of the Autism Speaks Government Relations team in Pennsylvania. I deeply appreciate the year I've spent working with Eric Settle. Eric is a skilled lobbyist and I learned much from him - much that I hope to take to my next project. I sincerely hope our paths cross again in the not-so-distant future. Stuart Spielman has been a consistent and thoughtful sounding board and his feedback increased the quality of my technical filings and testimony offered in support of HB 1150. Anyone who questions Stuart's integrity simply doesn't know Stuart. Shelley Hendrix taught me much about the formerly unfamiliar territory of managing a grassroots push. She championed Louisiana's counterpart to or legislation and it became law exactly one week before Governor Rendell signed HB 1150. Her commitment to children with autism is unquestionable. Without doubt, Elizabeth Emken had become a valued friend and ally whose vision, in many respects, runs parallel with mine. Her drive to see our nation become a more hospitable place for people with autism is admirable. They are much deserving of all of our thanks and I look forward to working with them in the future.

And last but certainly not least, I thank my family for their support and patience as I joined you all in doing this good work.

HB 1150 being signed into law yesterday was a day worth celebrating. Pennsylvania's families and policymakers working together with Autism Speaks for more than a year to advance HB 1150 to a place where its opponents no longer had any credible excuses to let it die. We answered every question, we jumped through every hoop, and we cleared every obstacle. HB 1150 becoming law is an achievement that we have much to take pride in.

Going forward, we all need to remember the collaborations that got us here and we need to rebuild them and make them stronger. I intend to do what I can over the course of the coming months to encourage a dialogue that promotes our coming together as friends and, eventually, as a collaborative unit.

If you took the time to pass along my action alerts, I ask that you forward this message as well.

With kind regards,

Jim Bouder

Kelli Ann Davis

Here we go again. Conflicting stories – I’m sorry, but this drives me absolutely nuts:

Version 1: “Don White sat on this bill until it almost expired. Parents sent him letters stating that we know why he was stalling.”

Version 1B: Yet, I’ve also heard that it was the report from the PHC4 that got the Senator to finally move on it.

Version 2: “The only reason the bill got out of the PA Senate, where it had sat for almost a year, is because Autism Speaks convinced Don White and the insurance lobby who lines his pockets to concede on a few issues. There would be no bill if Don White didn't move.”

And this statement: “Thinking positive is to bring this to the light so donations can be made to others who support us.”

Question to Julie R: Who’s “us” and why is money even a factor in this discussion??

Bottom Line: I agree with Another PA Resident: "The only 'loser' in this battle is the insurance industry who can no longer discriminate against our kids. Bashing Autism Speaks over this helps no one. Please focus on the positive...for once."

Julie R.

I am focusing on the positive, however, I WILL NOT donate to an organization who will use my money to buy a knife to stab me in the back with!!! Thinking positive is to bring this to the light so donations can be made to others who support us. Don White sat on this bill until it almost expired. Parents sent him letters stating that we know why he was stalling. This is POSITIVE action to counteract the negative parties.

"Autism Speaks, a national organization that conducts fundraising for research, and their paid lobbyists from Ikon, Inc., made several back-door concessions on the bill without the consent of Speaker O'Brien.

In nearly one full week of roller-coaster negotiations with the House Banking and Insurance Committee, headed by Senator Don White, the bill was stripped of all useful language, leaving Pennsylvania children with autism vulnerable to denials of coverage. House Speaker O'Brien, along with Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and Secretary Estelle Richman of the Department of Public Welfare joined in condemning the gutting of the bill."

Another PA Resident

No one "lost" this battle. Rather, PA families won. And so did all the organizations who contributed to this effort, including Autism Speaks. The only reason the bill got out of the PA Senate, where it had sat for almost a year, is because Autism Speaks convinced Don White and the insurance lobby who lines his pockets to concede on a few issues. There would be no bill if Don White didn't move.

It's still the best autism insurance mandate in the country (Denny's final amendments are minor, look at them yourself). The only "loser" in this battle is the insurance industry who can no longer discriminate against our kids. Bashing Autism Speaks over this helps no one. Please focus on the positive...for once.

Julie R.

As a PA resident, I am still skeptical. I am worried about loopholes, etc. I would also like to add that Autism Speaks tried to sabotage this Bill by rearranging the wording. They were the only autism organization to support the altered bill, except for Don White who gets a ton of money for his campaign from big PHARMA and insurance companies. Parents fought HARD to tell Autism Speaks to SHUT UP, and to stop talking. We won. I am positive, yet realistic that the fight may not be over. Thank you to all the representatives who helped us. As for Autism Speaks, you not only lost the battle, you completely lost the respect and trust of yet even more families. Time will tell.

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