“It’s really unfortunate that Autism Speaks didn’t join in with the rest of the autism organizations in New York 18 months ago to press for the passage of A6888,” said Smith. “If they had, perhaps we would be celebrating the passage of a real reform bill instead of merely dodging a bullet, and a bullet aimed at the autism community that was paid for by lots of moms walking lots of miles.” From the Autism Action Network:
New York Governor David Paterson vetoed Senate Bill S7000b yesterday, the bill longtime autism insurance reform advocates dubbed the “worse-than-nothing” autism insurance reform bill. “This is a real victory for insurance fairness, said Michael Smith, Chair of the Foundation for Autism Information Research, and a leader of opposition to the bill, “We owe a big thank you to the Governor who listened to the people who are affected by this legislation, and who have been working for real autism insurance reform for years.”
The bill would have repealed existing anti-discrimination language hard won in 2006, and required that any treatment for autism meet a standard far higher than that required for any other health condition under New York law, or in any other state. “This standard if passed was so onerously high that we could identify no treatments that we were certain would be covered,” said Marcia Roth, a Budget and Policy Analyst with the Autism Action Network, “And it would have created a dangerous precedent that could serve as a model for other states.”
“Costs currently paid by insurers would have been shifted to county and school district taxpayers, said Tom Abinanti, a Westchester County Legislator and Democratic candidate for Assembly in the 69th district (Greenburgh, Pleasantville and parts of Yonkers).
A coalition of more than 30 autism organizations (HERE) had been working to pass another bill, A6888, last year when S7000b was suddenly announced at an Albany at which the only non-legislative people present were representatives of Mannatt, Phelps and Phillips, a national lobbying firm, who represents more than 100 insurance companies, hired by Autism Speaks to lobby on their insurance efforts. Persons familiar with Autism Speaks lobbying efforts confirmed that Manatt was paid at least $100,000 by Autism Speaks.
Former Autism Speaks executive Alison Singer revealed in a letter to a Westchester County news blog (HERE) that Manatt employees drafted S7000b, contrary to assertions made by staffers for the two key legislators who introduced the bill; Assemblymember Joseph Morelle, Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee, and State Senator Neil Breslin, Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee.
Despite a last minute television and radio blitz paid for by Autism Speaks, a grassroots coalition of autism organizations was able to persuade the Governor that New York would be better off without S7000B.
“It’s really unfortunate that Autism Speaks didn’t join in with the rest of the autism organizations in New York 18 months ago to press for the passage of A6888,” said Smith. “If they had, perhaps we would be celebrating the passage of a real reform bill instead of merely dodging a bullet, and a bullet aimed at the autism community that was paid for by lots of moms walking lots of miles.”