The following is an action alert from The Autism Action Network. There is an automatic email action alert below the jump including phone numbers to Autism Speaks to ask them to support the broadly embraced S6123 "Autism Speaks' bill contains vague language that doesn't compel insurance companies to cover any specific treatments, services or therapies. And would require any treatments to be approved by three separate state agencies. There is no time line for the agencies to act and no money to pay for staff. It is a recipe for inaction.:
Autism Speaks gravely jeopardized the chances of real autism health insurance reform in New York State last Friday by undercutting a bill supported by every national and statewide autism advocacy organization in the state by introducing into the legislature their own watered down bill written by a lobbying firm who represent both major health insurance companies and Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks unilateral action undercuts Senate Bill S6123, the bill the autism community in New York has been working to pass for 15 months to get real autism health insurance reform.
The Community Bill This has no annual spending caps; no age limits, and requires coverage of medical specialists, and therapies including applied behavior analysis, occupational, physical and speech. In short the same kind of coverage that is provided for disorders other than autism.
In an unprecedented show of support, the Community Bill has been endorsed by groups as diverse as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics along with SAFEMINDS and Generation Rescue as well as the Autism Society of America and the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Project. And it has significant bipartisan support.
Autism Speaks has been approached dozens of times since the fall of 2008 about working with a statewide coalition. But they have steadfastly refused to work with anyone. And coming in at this late hour with a competing bill provides the legislators a perfect excuse to do nothing.
Here are some of the groups backing S6123, the Community Bill:
The Medical Societies of the State of New York (the AMA)
American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapter 2
NYS School Board Association
NYS Speech, Hearing and Language Association
NYS Occupational Therapy Association
Autism Action Network
Autism Action NY
Autism Society of America (National)
ASA, Albany Chapter
ASA, The Bronx
ASA, Hudson Valley
ASA, Western New York
Foundation for Autism Information and Research
Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Project
National Autism Association, New York Metro Chapter,
New York Families for Autistic Children
Schafer Autism Report
Talking About Curing Autism
Upstate New York Families For Effective Autism Treatment
Upstate New York Autism Awareness
United State Autism and Asperger Association
No groups other than Autism Speaks are supporting their bill.
At a hearing on autism insurance in Albany last October, Autism Speaks was represented by a staffer flown in from South Carolina, and another staffer who isn't a parent of a child on the spectrum. Whereas there were dozens of speakers, all parents, from across the state advocating for the Community-backed bill.
According to an Autism Speaks insider employee, $100,000 was budgeted for their New York lobbying efforts, the vast majority of that going to pay the lobbying firm Manatt. Manatt also represents a roster of the very health insurance companies who are stealing our premiums while denying our kids healthcare including Blue Shield of California, GE Insurance Solutions, Group Health Inc., HealthMarkets, Inc., National Health Insurance Company, The Medical Protective Company, and the MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company
We don't need a do-nothing bill that allows politicians to pretend they are doing something. We need state action to end discrimination against our kids and the theft of premiums by insurance companies.
What You Can Do:
Everyone: Please call Autism Speaks today and ask them to support the autism community and back S6123 the real autism health insurance reform bill
Phone: (212) 252-8584 Fax: (212) 252-8676
New Yorkers: Call the following two Senators, the key sponsors of the Autism Speaks bill, and ask them politely and respectfully to support S6123; real reform as if kids with autism mattered.
Neil Breslin, Chair Senate Insurance Committee,
Tel: (518) 455-2225
Tom Duane, Chair, Senate Health Committee,
Tel: (518) 455-2451
Click on this link to send an email to your State Senator asking him or her to support S6123.