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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Watered-Down Legislation

In Jackson, Mississippi, the Clarion-Ledger reports:
Lawmakers on Monday approved a gutted version of a bill that would have required the State and Schools Employee Health Insurance Plan to cover autism therapies but now is reduced to a study.
It heads to Gov. Phil Bryant for a signature.
“It’s a worthless version,” said the bill’s author, state Rep. Steve Massengill, R-Hickory Flat. “I am very disappointed, but we’ll try again next year.”
House Bill 542 says the State and School Employees Health Insurance Management Board will study whether to expand its coverage for autism and file a report with the Legislature on or before Dec. 1.
The original version had required the plan to cover diagnosis and therapies for autism.
House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism had pushed for the original version of the bill, but on Monday indicated the Senate wasn’t moving and recommended the House concur.
In Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports:
A long-sought bill mandating insurance coverage for childhood autism treatment was described as a compromise Monday, but several advocates said it had been too watered-down to mollify the insurance industry.

Monday's testimony was scheduled for proponents of House Bill 2744, but several of those who testified Monday said the bill was now unacceptable due to coverage caps and provider licensing requirements.

"If you were in my position, would you vote for this bill or not?" Rep. John Doll, R-Garden City, asked Mike Wasmer, an Olathe resident and representative from Autism Speaks.

"I would not," Wasmer said.

Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, asked early in the hearing where the bill came from, which she later said was an attempt to discern who had been at the table when it was devised.

"I needed a reference point when they said 'this is a compromise,' " Bollier explained after the hearing. "I needed to know what that meant and who were the compromisers."

Wasmer said the compromise was between insurance companies not eager to see an autism mandate go forward and Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, who has promoted the mandate for years.

"No parent, no provider group, no parent advocacy group was at the table," Wasmer said. "This was a discussion between Rep. Rubin and the insurance lobby."