Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CA Parents Urge Brown to Sign Mandate

At The Ventura County Star, Timm Herdt reports on the California mandate:

[Jennifer] McNulty, the immediate past president of the Ventura County Autism Society, is joining with parents of autistic children across the state this week to deliver a message to Gov. Jerry Brown: Sign a bill now on your desk, Senate Bill 946, that would clarify existing mental health coverage law to require insurers to cover applied behavioral analysis.

"This type of early intervention is critical," she said. "It really is changing children's lives."

SB946, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is a health insurance mandate bill the insurance industry and other critics say would drive up expenses and contribute to rising premiums.

An analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program, a team of University of California experts charged with assessing the effects of proposed new mandates, concluded this year that if the bill became law, 7,300 additional insured children would access behavioral therapy coverage each year at a cost of $50,000 each.

Those increased costs would result in a 0.24 percent premium increase for group coverage and a 0.14 percent increase for individual plans, the analysis states.

Nicole Evans, spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans, said the measure could add as much as $700 million a year to the costs of health insurance.

"Health plans already provide comprehensive medical coverage for autism services," she said. "We cover the medical side of the treatment, not the life-skills or educational services."

"Families can't wait a couple years," said Kristin Jacobson of the Alliance of California Autism Organizations, who is helping to organize a rally in support of SB946, planned for Monday at the state Capitol.