Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Calling All Vermonters: Whether or not you are or know someone who is living with autism

As quoted from the Vermont Citizen Coalition on Autism Reform

We Need Your Help!

On Friday, March 12, the Senate Finance Committee voted an amended version of S262 (Autism Insurance Reform) out of committee. Disappointingly, this amended bill sidesteps the issue and calls for yet another study! It is being sent to the VT House of Representatives to be taken up by the House Committee on Health.

However, there is still hope for Autism Insurance Reform! This amended bill may be amended yet again! We are giving the House Clerk our original bill, along with our voluminous research findings, and asking them to take it up and work with us to craft a feasible bill, one that would be accepted by the House and Senate Joint Conference Committee.

Getting people to call or write to both Steve Maier, House Health Chair, and Shap Smith, Speaker of House, in support of the original bill, S262 Autism Insurance Reform, will be very important. We need you to share your stories, and say again and again that:

<> Autism is a medical/neurological condition that impedes a child’s ability to learn. Effective treatments exist. Insurance companies are discriminating against this particular condition and that is why we need this bill.

<> This bill has no affect on the State budget – It is budget-neutral. Furthermore, we believe it will save money for educational agencies in the long term by front-loading treatment and thereby decreasing the long term need for intensive support in school.

<> By providing an insurance payment mechanism, this bill will have the effect of increasing the number and availability of licensed autism treatment providers in Vermont at no cost to state agencies.

<> Schools are sorely pressed to provide the evidence-based treatment that ameliorates the symptoms of autism. They cannot do it alone. By providing access to effective medical treatment, this bill would decrease prohibitively expensive institutional placements. (The average institutional placement carries an annual cost of $279,000.

<> Society benefits by producing employable citizens who are capable of self-directing the course of their life with a lower level of community support and a lowered need for expensive crisis beds at psychiatric institutions.

We thank you all for your support. We believe passage of this bill have a beneficial ripple effect on many issues facing the autism community.

If you have questions, would like more information or would like to help us soldier, please email me here!!!

~ Thanks, Jon

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vermont Autism Insurance Reform Bill: S-262

Oh my gosh! In Blogdom, I have committed the ultimate sin: it has been nearly two months since I have posted! I'd might as well just board up the windows and put a chain on the doors.

Or I could explain to you that, between starting a business (which is a much more consuming task than I could have ever imagined) and pushing for autism reforms in my home state of Vermont, I have been overwhelmingly busy. Not an excuse, but I assure you, it has not been time wasted.

As many of you know --- and some of you may not --- services for autism are not currently covered by insurance companies in many states, including Vermont. A bill has been introduced to assure this requirement. At this time however, though the legislators really want to help, they are getting pressure from lobbyists not to do anything now. We are in need of help in getting your support (and that of your representatives and senators) for VT autism insurance bill S-262.

Please call your legislator and the chair of this committee. If you are also a constituent of anyone else on this committee, please call them! Every call counts in tiny Vermont!There are talking points below of why we need this. Please write a handwritten note or a phone call (they count!) to the senators below. This is the week before crossover; when they decide whether to send it to the House or not.

Listen to our recent radio show about this issue with Anne Barbano of "Living the Autism Maze" here:

The narrative of the bill can be read here...or here:

The members of the Senate Finance Committee can be found here: Members

Their email addresses can be found by clicking here: Emails

Thanks to all of you and PLEASE HELP where you can and contact me if you need more information.