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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Defending a Vote Against Insurance Coverage

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in campaigns.

In Virginia, Republican Nick Freitas is running against incumbent US House Democrat Abigail Spanberger

Freitas has tried to defend his vote against insurance coverage for ABA:  From the VA Democratic Party:

With just four days until Election Day, Delegate Nick Freitas is still failing to explain away his extreme votes against the families of Virginia children with autism – falsely claiming that children with autism were already covered by insurance companies before the General Assembly took bipartisan, nearly unanimous action in 2019 to cover Virginians with autism of all ages.

In 2019, Delegate Freitas cast the LONE vote against requiring insurance plans to extend coverage for autism to people of all ages, rather than cutting off coverage on a child’s 11th birthday.

Earlier this week on Richmond’s Morning News with John Reid, Delegate Freitas again tried to defend his controversial stance against requiring insurance companies to cover Virginians with autism. In his comments, he also lied about whether children with autism previously had insurance coverage:

“This bill comes up, and it’s essentially an unfunded mandate. It’s just the government saying that um, you know, ’cause kids with autism, they already have coverage. There was [sic] some additional things that they wanted to do, but they didn’t, they didn’t assign any funding to it,” said Freitas. “And every time they do this, and they do this with a number of issues, and I’ve always voted against it no matter what they were doing.”

That’s not how Autism Speaks viewed the legislation after it passed. In a March 2019 press release they wrote, “This year, the state legislature has passed legislation to completely eliminate the age cap on Virginia’s insurance mandate…The new law will provide coverage for medically necessary care for individuals with autism of all ages under state-regulated, large group plans starting in January 2020.”

To make things worse, earlier this year Freitas doubled down on his stance against the families of children with autism by casting the single vote against requiring insurers to provide coverage for autism treatment and diagnosis.

“Nick Freitas might think he was taking a principled conservative stand when he voted against these bills, but what he really did was vote to deny children with autism the health coverage they need. That’s indefensible, and it’s why every Republican and Democrat in the General Assembly voted to protect Virginians with autism, except for him,” said DPVA Communications Director Grant Fox. “When the Virginia autism community and autism advocacy organizations worked together to build wide support for this critical legislation, Freitas stood alone in voting against them, and he stands alone today as he attempts to portray the autism community as misled and uninformed.”