Opponents say the bill gives give insurance companies standards to use in rejecting treatments for a disorder that differs widely and whose cause has not been identified.
"Without a firm cause, there's no known standard of care," said Michael Smith, chairman of the Foundation for Autism Information & Research, who also has an autistic son. He said it would "handcuff doctors," who might, for example, prescribe off-label drugs.
Both sides agree that current insurance coverage isn't adequate. With Medicaid as the main source of reimbursement, parents of young children often spend thousands of dollars annually for therapy and treatment. The expense declines when children begin getting services through school.
Autism disorders can be a lifelong issue. Statistics show 79 percent of young adults with autism still live with their families, said Marcia Roth of the Autism Action Network. That includes her adult son, she said.
Smith complained that the lobbyist influential in the writing of this bill, former gubernatorial candidate John Faso, works for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a company whose clients include many large insurance companies. Smith fears insurers wanted to tailor a narrow bill that would cost them less money. Faso said while the firm has many clients in many states, he was working in this instance for Autism Speaks.
In an extraordinary article letter published earlier this week in the Scarsdale Patch, Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, confirmed that a controversial autism insurance bill in New York, S7000B/A1037A, currently awaiting signature or veto by Governor David Paterson was indeed drafted by insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists Mannatt, Phelps and Phillips who are representing Autism Speaks' lobbying efforts in New York.
See Scarsdale Patch HERE
Despite the fact that Singer resigned from Autism Speaks and has gone into competition with them, she seems to suggest in her letter that the autism community should follow Autism Speaks’ leadership on insurance reforms. In her letter, Singer suggests that it is a positive thing that “The law firm that wrote the bill was hired by Autism Speaks.”