Paterson also said this morning that he would like to sign legislation for health-insurance coverage of autism. He recently vetoed the bill that was passed by the Legislature, saying it “wrenched his heart” to veto it, but he could not sign anything that did not include funding and amounted to an unfunded mandate. “If the Legislature would come back and appropriate the money, they could resubmit the bill and this time I would sign it,” the governor said.
Autism groups that were for and against the measure lobbied heavily on it. It was sponsored by Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, Albany County, and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County. Morelle said in a statement that he was disappointed in the veto, which “would have prevented insurers from denying coverage on the basis that treatments are educational rather than medical in their necessity.” He said the legislation “was an opportunity to simply do the right thing for the ever-increasing number of families whose children are diagnosed with autism.”
Groups that opposed it said the requirement that state-regulated insurance companies cover “evidence-based, peer-reviewed and clinically proven” treatment and therapy, a standard that is not required for other medical problems, and would shift the burden to pay for early intervention services from insurers to local governments and taxpayers.
“We appreciate the state Legislature’s concern and interest in providing for increased autism insurance coverage,” Thomas Abinanti, a Westchester County legislator, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Legislature to create increased autism insurance coverage that is affordable and cost effective.”
Abinanti, a Democrat running for Assembly, has an autistic child. His Republican opponent is Thomas Bock.