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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Massachusetts Governor Signs Legislation

This week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed mandate legislation. From his press release:

"I am proud that Massachusetts now has one of the most comprehensive autism coverage laws in the nation," said Governor Patrick. "This bill offers needed relief for individuals and families struggling to pay for the services they need."

"Parents have long been faced with the difficulty of getting necessary medical care for their autistic children covered by insurance companies. Studies have shown that by receiving services early, those diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder will need fewer services later in life," said Senate President Therese Murray. "This law will change existing insurance policy so that we will be able to provide early intervention care to more children with autism, teaching them to communicate and learn at an early age. The passage and signing of this legislation signals an increased understanding about autism and its treatment."

On a related topic, the governor signed legislation concerning terminology. From another press release:

In keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to support the Commonwealth's most vulnerable populations, Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a bill that promotes dignity for individuals with developmental disabilities by replacing the words "mental retardation" with "intellectual disabilities or disability" in the Massachusetts General Laws.

The legislation, "An Act Eliminating the Word 'Retardation' from the General Laws" (H4922), reflects the passionate work of advocates, particularly self-advocates with developmental disabilities, and follows last year's renaming of the Department of Developmental Services, which had previously been called the Department of Mental Retardation. A broad range of stakeholders believed that changing the name of the department was a key step in demonstrating respect for people with developmental disabilities and also better reflected the range of services and supports offered by the state.