The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, the umbrella group of tea party organizations in the state, has come out against a bill backed by House Speaker Bill Howell that would require businesses to provide insurance coverage for children with autism.
"Autism is certainly a heartbreaking condition and the treatments are a terrible financial strain for many families,'' said Mark Kevin Lloyd, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation.
"The concern of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation with this bill is the inappropriate use of government," Lloyd said. "There is nothing stopping individual insurance companies from adding this coverage themselves as part of free market competition. Virginia, and our nation, has a history of private individuals and groups assisting those who are in unfortunate circumstances. Government is not an arm of compassion, and no matter how well intended, can never replace faith-based and private initiatives."
Howell's position, which all but ensures the bill will pass the General Assembly this year, has upset some members of his caucus, who question supporting a new mandate while opposing the health care overhaul passed last year. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that opposes the federal health care overhaul, began robocalls statewide Monday targeting Howell (R-Stafford) that will run through Wednesday's House vote.
Proponents of the bill are pushing back, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
A conservative group, Americans for Prosperity, began making automated calls opposing the legislation this week.
Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, one of the House's most conservative members, called that an "attempt to manipulate the public," saying the measure does not mandate the purchase of health care, but rather defines the content.
An attempt by Del. Benjamin L. Cline, R-Rockbridge, to amend the bill to say that employers must offer a package that includes autism coverage, but not provide that package to each employee, was shot down.
See Del. Tag Greason introducing the bill: