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Monday, March 5, 2012

Discussions of Michigan Legislation

The Detroit News reported on Friday:
Two bills that would require insurers to cover autism treatment in Michigan are now tied to a third that would create a fund to reimburse insurers for such treatment.
The Autism Coverage Incentive Program would allow insurers to make claims for autism treatment for kids up to age 18 to offset additional costs from the mandate. Supporters hope the program, to be funded by the state, is the mechanism Michigan needs to finally get autism treatment legislation approved, because it wouldn't penalize businesses.
"I think we've finally got to the point where we worked with the business community … to try to come up with some middle ground," said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, one of six senators to introduce Bill 981 last week.
The Livingston Daily reports:
State Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, said he's seen first-hand how Michigan families with autistic children struggle to cover treatments but is unsure where he stands on the legislation.
A former employee of Rogers' building business had a child with autism, which has given the Republican pause, however.
"I don't know if I've made a decision, but now I have a different appreciation of what it really takes" to seek treatment for autistic children, Rogers said, "and it's not fun."
Rogers said he and his legislative colleagues need a better understanding of autism before creating a potential "government monstrosity" to fund treatments.
He said he supports [Gov. Rick] Snyder's philosophy of investing in treatments today to benefit children and save the state long-term costs.
"If we do (preventive) strikes on anything, I've got to believe it's better in the long haul. The problem is, we've always done it in reverse," Rogers said.
Dave Waymire, spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans, a trade group representing most of Michigan's private insurers, agreed.
Waymire said mandating polices to cover autism would create an enormous new liability that ultimately would be paid for by all customers. He said that before discussion of a state fund to reimburse insurers, however.
At MLive, psychologist Mohan Krishnan makes an economic case for an insurance mandate:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 29 states require coverage for autism treatment. Six made the move last year alone.

Why? I believe it is because they recognize that coverage empowers highly skilled parents to continue contributing to their communities. Perhaps one of those children who benefit from this therapy today may be hotly desired innovators themselves tomorrow.
Autism coverage is a competitive advantage — these are states that will be able to attract and retain professional talent that is the cornerstone of growth. Legislation to provide coverage in Michigan would give us the edge our state desperately needs, at a manageable cost.