The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on a bipartisan effort to pass an insurance mandate in Ohio. State Rep. Cheryl Grossman is sponsoring the House version (House Bill 598).
"I think there is a misconception" about the cost of the coverage, said Grossman, a suburban Columbus Republican. "It is not nearly as high as what had been thought in the past. It's significantly less than what was talked about five years ago."
"This has become a much bigger problem and obviously many of our members in the House and Senate have loved ones, children, brothers and sisters affected by autism and it really is, if left untreated, it is a tough row to hoe," said State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who is sponsoring Senate Bill 381.
The trick now is to sell a complicated pair of bills during a lame-duck session and with no guarantees that Gov. John Kasich would sign the legislation into law. The Republican governor has said he is sensitive to the impact of autism but worries about placing additional financial burdens on businesses, which are among his strongest political supporters. Kasich says he welcomes the discussion that the legislation will bring.
Seitz said supporters of the legislation made the following concessions to appease business leaders:
• The maximum coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis for one person would be capped at $50,000 annually.
• The bill makes clear who and what type of services would be covered, an attempt to satisfy insurance companies that did not want to be responsible for everything related to special-needs education.
• Employers could opt out of coverage if they can show that it causes their premiums to rise by more than 1 percent over the previous year, a provision that is in the current mental health insurance law.
Seitz notes that focusing on early intervention services may cut down on state-assisted services through Medicaid and the school system later in the child's life.
This is an example, Seitz said, of making an investment on the front end "to save everyone, including the taxpayer, a lot of money on the back end."