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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ohio, Autism, and Mental Health Parity

At The Columbus Dispatch, Jim Siegel reports on Ohio legislation that would amend the Mental Health Parity Act to include insurance coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio will make Senate Bill 276 a key vote that they use to score lawmakers if amendments are added dealing with health insurance mandates for brain injuries and autism. Making it a key vote means that lawmakers who vote for the bill will get a negative score from the groups.
The autism bill would be more costly than the brain injury mandate, [CoC spokesman Keith] Lake said, but the brain injury bill “essentially is being done to the benefit of one company.”
That company is Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation of Houston, Texas, which has testified in support of the bill and runs a facility in Stow, Ohio. The company is represented by Robert Klaffky and Doug Preisse, a pair of influential lobbyists, particularly among House Republican leadership.
Klaffky and Preisse also represent Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy organization.
The amendments have been drafted and could be offered in the House Health Committee on Wednesday. Committee Chairman Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, said he opposes the amendments and was not sure what was going to happen with them.
The request to amend the bill appears to be coming from House leadership. Smith, the prime sponsor of the brain injury bill, said he did not advocate for the amendment. In fact, when asked if the bill is ready for passage, he said, “not at this point, in my opinion.”