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Thursday, September 15, 2011

CA Mandate Bill on Governor's Desk

Dr. Louis Vismara, an autism dad on California State Senator Darrell Steinberg's staff, has sent out this email:
From: Vismara, Louis Louis.Vismara@SEN.CA.GOV
Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 2:13 PM

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD! Dear Parents, Friends and Colleagues – The Autism Insurance Mandate Bill (SB 946) authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg is awaiting the Governor’s action. This landmark bill, if signed by the Governor, will ensure that the health plans and insurance companies provide the most appropriate and effective medical treatments to people with autism. Since the Governor could act at any time – it is imperative that you contact him ASAP. The health plans are aggressively trying to secure a veto from the Governor. To express your opinion, which is vital to securing the Governor’s signature, PLEASE CLICK HERE. This web site will enable you to phone, fax or email the Governor’s office. If you are using the email option, please select the “have a comment” button. Next, (from the subject “drop-down” menu ─ 4th line down) select “Health & Human Services Agency. After you click “submit”, your comments can be very brief such as, “Dear Governor Brown, SB 946 in an important measure that will improve the lives of countless Californians. Having the health plans do their fair share, is good medicine and good public policy. I hope that you will sign this landmark legislation. Sincerely, Your Name and other appropriate contact info.” Attached, please find the Overview & Background on SB 946. Please consider forwarding this info to other interested individuals and organizations and contact me if our office can provide information or assistance.

THANKS. Cheers. Lou

Dan Walters writes:
...Rick Rollens, a veteran Senate staffer who left the Legislature to make more money as a lobbyist for mental health groups to pay for his autistic child's care, was helping Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg resurrect a bill that would require health insurers to cover a particular autism treatment.

The legislation ran afoul of a general policy against adding items of mandatory health insurance coverage this year, but was revived in the final days to outflank the committee blockade.

Steinberg's autism bill, which also was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature or veto, raised an issue that has long been a bone of political contention.

Critics complain that that Democrats have continually expanded the list of conditions and treatments insurers must cover, thus raising their costs, while simultaneously decrying increases in consumers' medical insurance premiums.

Just days before, the health insurance industry had blocked legislation that would have subjected premiums to state regulation.

Moreover, the final bill placed the autism mandate on private insurers but specifically exempted state government's medical programs for the poor and its own employees, citing the potential costs.

The politics of health care are never simple.