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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bill to Repeal Arizona Mandate

The legislature has approved a measure to let out-of-state health insurers sell policies in Arizona's small group and individual markets. They wouldn't have to abide by Arizona's benefit mandates, but would have to follow their own states' mandates. In-state insurers would also have the option of selling policies similar to those sold by out-of-state rivals.

Buyers would have far-greater scope to buy the policies that fit their medical needs and wallets.

"This is about expanding markets," said Republican state Sen. Nancy Barto, who introduced the bill. "A lot of Americans are waiting for good, free-market reforms, and this is one that is going to make a big difference."

Insurance is largely state regulated. Each state, lobbied by medical and patient groups, mandates various benefits that all must pay.

The number of state mandates rises each year. In 2004 there were 1,823, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance. Now it's 2,156. Unusual mandates include birthmark removal, athletic trainers and massage therapists. Rhode Island has the most with 69, Idaho the least with 13. Arizona has 33.

"It would overturn mandates in Arizona, and one of the most important for us is the health insurance mandate that provides autism coverage for children," said Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, executive director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

Twenty-four other states also have autism mandates.

"This bill does not repeal any mandate," replied Dr. Eric Novack, a conservative health care activist. "The goal is to give people a choice."

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh writes at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders:

Dear Friends, I need your help today with an urgent matter. As you may know, a few years ago, the State of Arizona passed a Bill that approved Insurance coverage for the behavioral treatment of Autism. This bill was one of the first passed and it has already changed the lives of numerous families and children. Today, the Arizona House of Reps repealed the Bill. Of course this came as a great shock to our families and we are very concerned that it will also produce a precedent for other States who have or are in the process of passing similar insurance bills.

We are asking everyone we know to contact the Governor of Arizona today (or as soon as possible) to ask that she veto SB 1593.

I know many of you are from other States, but I urge you to help us in this process because I believe this may endanger future bills in other states as well. If you have personal contact with celebrities, government officials or representatives of your state, please ask them for help as well. Your efforts are much appreciated.

The link to the governors website is:

On this website, there is a section where you can submit comments. Please ask the Governor of Arizona to veto SB 1593. There is also a phone number you can call if you would like direct contact with the Governor’s office.

From the Autism Speaks blog:

Autism Speaks has announced a major, intensive two-day TV ad campaign, running April 19-20, that will call on Governor Jan Brewer to veto a misguided bill that would repeal enacted autism insurance reform legislation and force hundreds of Arizona families to once again pay tens of thousands of dollars a year out-of-pocket for critical autism diagnoses and treatments –– even though they already have health insurance coverage.

“Neighbors,” will run nearly 200 times over two days on Phoenix’s network TV affiliate stations – KNXV-TV (ABC), KPHO-TV (CBS), KSAZ-TV (FOX) and KPNX-TV (NBC). The ads juxtapose two families who have a child with autism – one of whom is getting the treatments he needs because his parents’ insurance company covers his therapies, and another who isn’t because his insurer is not required to provide coverage. The ad calls on viewers to call Governor Brewer and urge her to veto the bill.