Supporters push state senate to take up bill that would expand autism coverage

Nov 24, 2010

Supporters are pushing the Michigan legislature to pass a bill that would expand health care coverage for autism treatment before the measure dies at the end of the lame duck session. The bills would force health insurance companies to offer coverage for behavioral therapies for autism.

Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley has a daughter with autism. He’s featured in a new video released this week by the organization Autism Speaks and Autism Alliance for Michigan. He shares his emotional journey of the diagnosis in a new video released this week by the advocacy group, Autism Speaks. “I’m speaking up for my daughter but even as a person who knows what these things are like. I’m speaking out for a whole population of people who are struggling today, mostly in silence, through the day-to-day life of a family with autism,” Calley said in the video.

Calley argues the costs of treatment for a child with the developmental disorder are lower than a lifetime of care for a person who has gone untreated. “Not only are we choosing to condemn people, real people, to a life of dependence. But we’re also obligating taxpayers to just an incredible amount of expense,” Calley said.

The Michigan house passed the bills more than a year ago with some bi-partisan support. The bills will die if the state senate does not approve them by end of the year. Supporters would have to start from scratch in January.

Opponents of the measure include Blue Cross Blue Shield. The insurer says it’s not against autism treatment per se, but rather the government mandate.