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Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Hampshire Laws, Insurance, Seclusion & Restraint

Richard A. Cohen and Julia Freeman-Woolpert of the Disabilities Rights Center in Concord NH discuss recent legislation in their state:
Vulnerable children with disabilities got a little safer with the passage of Senate Bill 396, limiting the use of child restraint practices in schools and treatment facilities.

The Disabilities Rights Center has handled a number of disturbing cases recently where children suffered broken bones and other injuries in school and other facilities while being restrained. Expert testimony in support of SB 396 demonstrated that face down restraint can put children at risk of death. Indeed around the country children have died as a result of this type of restraint. The new law bans many dangerous restraint techniques and restricts the use of other types to only emergency situations where the physical safety of the child or others is at risk. The bill also limits handcuffing of children being transported or appearing in court. Gov. Lynch and the New Hampshire Legislature should be commended for passing the bill.

Families of children with autism rejoiced at the passage of House Bill 569, more commonly known as Connor’s Law. The law requires that private health insurance plans in New Hampshire cover prescribed treatments for autism, including speech, occupational, and behavioral therapy.

Early and intensive treatment for autism can improve the outcomes enormously for these children, much as insulin can for a child with diabetes and heart surgery can for a child with a heart condition, yet until this law was passed, the child with autism could be denied insurance coverage for treatment. Michelle Jarvis, Connor’s mother and President of the Autism Society of New Hampshire, noted, “All along, our message has been that a child with autism deserves the same level of coverage as a child seeking treatment for any other medical condition. To do any less would not only be poor healthcare policy, it would be discriminatory.”
More on seclusion & restraint: