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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

California Mandate: Insurers and the Signing Message

Governor Brown's signing message has given a bit of ammo to the insurance industry. Victoria Colliver writes at The San Francisco Chronicle:

In his signing message, Gov. Jerry Brown expressed reservations about the law and the therapy, saying, "There are remaining questions about effectiveness, duration, and the cost of the covered treatments that must be sorted out.

The law's chief critics, health insurers, read that to mean the governor questions whether they should cover these costly treatments, while the parents of autistic children and their supporters say Brown's reluctance reflects nothing more than the pressure applied by insurance lobbyists.

"There's not a lot of controversy in medical communities about the effectiveness of the treatment," said Kristin Jacobson, who represents the Alliance of California Autism Organizations, which is made up of about 40 groups. "The insurance industry was very effective in raising concerns, and luckily the governor was able to see beyond that."


Kaiser officials said the health maintenance organization has had a long-standing policy of generally considering ABA to be an educational, rather than medical, service and on that basis hasn't routinely covered it.

SB946 changes that.

"We're working in close collaboration with (state regulators) to implement the bill," said John Nelson, spokesman for Kaiser, which has about 13,500 members in California diagnosed with autism. "But we agree with the governor's signing message in that there are areas that need to be clarified."