Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann today released a lengthy plea of support (posted in its entirety below) for a pair of bills he helped craft that would require health insurers to cover autism services.
Hosemann, whose 3-year-old grandson was diagnosed with autism last year, urged legislators to pass Senate Bill 2581 and House Bill 885. He also included some heartbreaking testimony from parents and professionals who deal with autism every day and who support the measure.
Here's the entire email from Hosemann:
Every child deserves a chance ...
10,000 children are affected by autism in Mississippi and none are covered by insurance for the most recommended treatment. Thirty-eight other states have adopted insurance coverage for autism.
Please take a moment to read statements from parents and professionals who work with this issue.
We ask you to support the Autism bill. The following are dates, times, and room numbers for committee meetings at the Capitol this week in which the Autism Insurance Bill should be brought up for a vote:
Tuesday, January 27th at 1:00 pm in Room 402 - House Insurance Committee
Wednesday, January 28th at 2:00 pm in Room 210 - Senate Insurance Committee
"After seeking a . . . BCBA, my brother at the age of about 12 began to use approximations to request preferred items as well as attempt to feed himself, urinate in the toilet, bathe himself, dress himself, etc. . . Although we were truly blessed to have such help, I began to notice that my father was never around. The reason being was...he worked. He worked all day every day in order to provide for his child with special needs. . ." --Amber Orman, BCBA, West Point, MS
"As a single mom I am still struggling with healthcare issues for my son who currently needs other treatment to assist with his condition. I am having to make hard decisions and go without needed medical services and pay for medical bills for which I did not have coverage when our health insurance was denied...We need your help."--Melinda Todd, Parent, Jackson, MS
"You can imagine the...blow when you find out that the insurance you have paid for does not cover anything for your child. Then, to find out that you basically have to move to find the only therapy program available, is in Jackson, and even then, no insurance coverage, just money up front."--Elizabeth Cobb, Parent, Madison, MS
"Time is not on the side of the children diagnosed with autism. My family moved from Georgia to Fulton, MS to help in any way that we could. The need was so great that the Autism Center of North Mississippi was born. We can barely provide services due to lack of insurance coverage. The majority of our families live below the median income level and struggle to pay for gas to come to our center, much less pay for behavior analytic therapy. This bill must pass so that the children can get the help that they need without causing a hardship on the family. Autism is hard enough!!!"--Sharon Boudreaux, BCBA, Tupelo, MS
"The lack of programs and resources for children on the Autism Spectrum in our state is underwhelming to say the least, while right here in our backyard at UMMC, Dr. Rik Lin and his team are performing groundbreaking research into the causes of ASD, How tragic if this research being conducted in our world renown facilities cannot help the families who live right here!"--Frances Rooks Patterson, Special Olympics, Madison, MS
"We were determined to help our little girl come out of her own distant world, and come into ours. Alayna has been receiving the ABA therapy now for a little over four years. . . . She continues to progress and we are amazed to see how much she has changed since she first began therapy in 2010." --Angela Tate, Parent, Pontotoc, MS
"In 2009, my brother, John, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. He could not communicate his wants and needs with me or my family. Instead, he would bang his head, hit, bite, and scream. His aggression and self-injury was completely overwhelming...Within months of therapy, John began showing improvements. Even the smallest gain had the biggest impact on our family."--Haley Wood, BCBA, Tupelo, MS
"Children who would have never dreamed of attending college, if provided treatment early and in an intensive manner, many children will not only attend, but also graduate from college and move on to a rewarding career and life. By not providing treatment early in their lives, we stack the deck against them, and our entire state, who will (in one way or the other) be responsible for their lifelong care."--Dr. James Moore, Visiting Assistant, USM, Hattiesburg, MS
"Without early intervention, children with ASD suffer isolation, unemployment, high rates of comorbid mental illness and institutionalization, and poor school achievement. Not only would passing this legislation make an incredible impact on the lives of children with ASD in the state of Mississippi, but it would ultimately save taxpayers money. In a study conducted by Chasson, Harris, and Neely (2007), it was found that the state of Texas would save $208,500 per child with ASD across 18 years of education if early intensive behavioral interventions were implemented. Using a conservative estimate of 4500 children with ASD in the state of Mississippi, based on 2012 NACCRRA estimates of 287,047 children aged 5 to 11 in the state and recent CDC findings that 1 in 64 children has an autism spectrum disorder, Mississippi would save approximately $935,145,304.00 by mandating insurance coverage for early intensive behavioral interventions."--Dr. Keith Radley, Assistant Professor, USM, Hattiesburg, MS