As I have been ignoring a great percentage of emails, especially listservs, over the past 3 months, I’ve finally started to realize that a large amount of them are about the Autism Insurance Parity Law that is currently sitting in our state legislature. It’s stuck in committee. It has taken a lot of people a lot of effort to even get ‘Shayan’s Law’ into committee. Now it sits there, awaiting to be scheduled for an executive session vote. If it doesn’t get voted out of committee by Monday, February 21st, it will die there.
So, what does this really mean? Currently families with an autistic child pay a great deal of money towards autism therapies. Insurance DOES NOT COVER THESE THERAPIES. That’s right. We are paying straight cash for these therapies. Our favorite ABA therapist we cannot send Oliver to see. We cannot afford $85/hour for her services for a sustained period of time in addition to all of the other therapies. Not many people can. We did last year and our insurance denied our claim. Microsoft is one of the very few employers that actually covers ABA therapy. At 80%. The disparity in who is able to afford autism therapies and who is not is something to consider. Yes, the world is not fair, but does it have to be this cruel? I know of a lot of kiddos who have been able to gain some great skills from autism therapists. They are fortunate. We feel so fortunate to have fallen into some fantastic therapists whom have given Oliver some amazing social skills. The rest of the kids rely upon what the public schools are able to provide, when they are able to provide it. They are less fortunate.
The State of Washington has Full Mental Health Parity and laws that state coverage for neuro-developmental treatments. It is not law that these benefits are extended to individuals with autism. Here is why:
-The treatment will only be covered if deemed rehabilitative/short term (autism is a chronic healthcare condition).
-Treatments are considered educational for patients with autism and is deferred to public schools.
What Shayan’s Law provides for is that autism treatments be covered to the same degree as the Washington State mental health parity. So, basically, telling the INSURANCE COMPANIES that they have to cover some of these costs. This should be a given. There are some links below that state some basic data to describe just how expensive autism is.
So, what can we do to help? I’m not a super grass roots, call your Senator kinda person. I should be, I know. I did call the people on the Senate Committee that is holding this bill hostage. Will that help? I don’t know. I hope so. I pray so. The advocacy groups are saying to call these folks and leave messages. Yes, I hope that will help. If you know any persons of power in Olympia law/advocacy world, now would be an excellent time to reach out to that contact. As I have learned, you give when you can, you receive when you can. I ask you to ask of those of whom might be able to influence this vote. It is very, very important. It means a lot to a significant amount of people. 1 in 110 in fact.
Much gratitude for your support,
Senator Karen Keiser, Committee Chairman (360) 786-7664
Conway, Steve, Vice Chair (360) 786-7656
Pflug, Cheryl (360) 786-7608
Becker, Randi (360) 786-7602
Carrell, Mike (360) 786-7654
Kline, Adam (360) 786-7688
Murray, Ed (360) 786-7628
Parlette, Linda Evans (360) 786-7622
Pridemore, Craig (360) 786-7696
Here are some wonderful websites stating exactly what is at risk here:
Fact Sheet about Insurance laws – Washington Autism Advocacy
Shayan’s Law information – Washington Autism Advocacy
4 thoughts on “autism and insurance, or lack there of in Washington State”
you put this so eloquently. Thanks for posting and sending.
Karen, thank you for a very well written and informative post. I hope it’s widely read and distributed.
All my best,
The bill number is SB 5059. The text of the bill is here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2011-12/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5059.pdf
The bill is sitting in the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care. The Committee members:
Keiser, Karen (D) Chair
Conway, Steve (D) Vice Chair
Becker, Randi (R)
Carrell, Mike (R)
Kline, Adam (D)
Murray, Ed (D)
Parlette, Linda Evans (R)
Pflug, Cheryl (R)
Pridemore, Craig (D)
Contact info for the Committee members and staff: http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/HEA/Pages/MembersStaff.aspx
The bill’s sponsors are senators Murray, Pflug, Brown, Kastama, Rockefeller, Shin, Hobbs, Delvin, Conway, Chase, Regala, Kline, Haugen, Kohl-Welles, Pridemore, Tom, Fraser, White, McAuliffe, and Kilmer.
You can find your legislators at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx
Oops — I see you already provided the names & phone numbers of the committee members…