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Friday, March 30, 2012

Michigan Mandate Passes

Insurers must provide coverage for therapy for Michigan's autistic children beginning Oct. 1 as part of a package of bills passed Thursday by the Michigan Legislature.
The bills, which are expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also create a state fund to reimburse insurers for treatment costs.
"This is a big day," said David Meador, executive vice president and chief financial officer for DTE Energy. His 15-year-old daughter, Maribel, is autistic.
Advocates for the insurance mandate had failed in several earlier attempts to win legislative approval, largely because of opposition from business groups opposed to insurance mandates and worried about costs.
But the campaign built significant momentum in the last year with backing from Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who has an autistic daughter. The autism bills were approved Thursday with broad bipartisan support.
They passed with a 91-19 vote in the House and 30-8 in Senate.
The Detroit News reports:
In Michigan, about 15,000 children and teens are diagnosed with autism disorders. Autism is diagnosed by making judgments about a child's behavior; there are no blood or biologic tests. Its cause remains a mystery.Calley said passage of the bills will benefit not only families but the state of Michigan. The state will realize $13 billion to $15 billion in savings over the lifetimes of children who will now be able to receive therapies needed to reach their full potential, he said.
"We know that half of (children with autism) can reach independence, reach typical function," Calley said.
Calley championed the three-bill autism package as the father of a small daughter with autism.
"This will benefit other families much more than mine," Calley said. "I'm in a fortunate position to have resources and connections, to be (among) the 1 or 2 percent of families in Michigan that have access to therapy.
"The vast majority (can't afford treatment) so they get this diagnosis and they don't get the therapy they need. That's why you see divorces and why families with autism are much more likely to be in poverty."