autism

Politics
2:42 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Michigan's autism bill, questions about coverage and funding

Dru Bloomfield Flickr

Yesterday, the Michigan Legislature passed a series of autism coverage bills that will go to Governor Snyder.

It was one of the first significant pieces of legislation to move through the legislature with broad bi-partisan support.

The bill requires insurance companies to pay for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and treatment for children up to age 18.

Under the bill, insurance companies regulated by the state will have to cover expenses for ASD therapy and diagnosis...

  • of up to $50,000 a year for kids younger than 7,
  • $40,000 a year for kids ages 7-13,
  • and $30,000 for kids up to age 18.

Questions about funding

The law will go into effect on October 1, but some questions have been raised about part of the funding for the mandated coverage.

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Politics
1:13 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Michigan legislature poised to pass autism treatment bill

user blwphotography Flickr

The state House has approved a measure that will require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children. The state Senate is expected to concur with the House action later today and send the bill to Governor Rick Snyder's desk.

Senate bills 414, 415, and 981 would require the following, according to the House Fiscal Agency:

  • Require group and individual health plans to cover services for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in a manner similar to physical illnesses.
  • Allow health plans to limit coverage for ASD treatment to a yearly maximum based on age, and limit coverage to children 17 years of age and younger.
  • Allow insurers to request, among other things, a review of ASD treatment.
  • Provide a limited exemption for qualified health plans offered under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • Create the Autism Coverage Incentive Act and the Autism Coverage Fund.
  • Establish the Autism Coverage Incentive Program, under which insurance carriers could seek reimbursement from the Fund for expenses incurred in providing coverage for ASD.

The House Fiscal Agency writes:

The Governor's FY 2012-13 Executive Budget Recommendation for the Department of Community Health includes an increase of $34.1 million Gross ($10.1 million GF/GP) to fund autism spectrum disorder treatment for the Medicaid and MIChild eligible children under the age of six.

The report indicates that approximately 2,000 kids under the age of six would meet the criteria that would be established with the new policy. 2,000 kids with an "average expenditure of $17,000 per child."

The Autism Coverage Incentive Program is expected to cost the state between $500,000 to $1 million to administer.

State Legislature
6:34 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Senate vote on autism mandate expected

Ifmuth Flickr

Measures on the state Senate calendar this week would require health insurance plans to cover autism treatments for children. Supporters of the autism mandate say early treatments can ensure children transition into healthy adults, and ultimately save money on health care costs.

There are an estimated 15,000 children in Michigan diagnosed with autism. But some mental health advocates say there are many more children with other brain disorders – such as severe depression or bi-polar disorder – who would similarly benefit from coverage.

Psychologist Judith Kovach says autism coverage is a good start – but singling out one condition isn’t fair to other families affected by mental illness.

“What do we say to those parents – your children don’t matter?”

Kovach appeared on Michigan Public TV this past weekend. The autism mandate is backed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who has a daughter with autism. They do not support expanding the requirement to cover all brain disorders.

Politics
4:56 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Autism coverage bills clear Michigan Senate committee

Flickr
cedarbenddrive Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate soon could vote on bills aimed at requiring insurance companies to cover some types of treatment for autism.

The Senate's Health Policy Committee on Thursday approved a bipartisan package of bills related to autism coverage, sending the bills to the Senate floor. They go to the House if the Senate passes them.

One bill sets up a fund to help reimburse insurers for paid claims related to diagnosis and treatment of autism. That provision is included in hopes of lessening opposition from business and insurance groups.

Previous efforts to mandate autism coverage have stalled in Michigan.

More than half the states require insurers to provide autism coverage. Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time or Michigan to join them.

Politics
4:12 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Autism legislation in Michigan could gain momentum in 2012

A national advocacy group for autism-treatment says Michigan tops its list of states it believes could require insurance companies to cover treatments for autistic children this year.

Rick Remington, with the New York-based group Autism Speaks, said the support of Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature along with Governor Rick Snyder bodes well for autism-treatment legislation.

“It’s been before the legislature for a number of years, it’s gotten strong support from Governor Snyder, as well as the advocacy of the lieutenant governor,” Remington said. “We’ve got strong support, bi-partisan support from the Michigan legislature. So, we’re very confident we will see a bill become law this year.”

Twenty-nine states already have insurance mandates for autism-treatment.

Remington said advocates for autism coverage are becoming more prevalent in legislatures throughout the nation as the number of autism diagnoses increases.

Many insurance companies oppose the idea, saying it would increase costs.

Police
1:36 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Training helps troopers deal with people with autism

MI State Police website

The Michigan State Police says more than 200 troopers have been trained to recognize autism and provide services.
    

The Mid-Michigan Autism Association has been working with state police to teach troopers how to communicate with autistic people as well as their families. The group says it's common for someone with autism to have contact with law enforcement, typically in situations that don't involve crimes.
    

Politics
5:11 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Michigan lawmakers to revisit autism coverage plan

Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers plan to make another attempt at passing legislation that could prompt insurance coverage for certain autism treatments in 2012.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday that new legislation related to autism coverage is expected early next year.

It's likely the plan will differ in some ways from previous proposals that would have mandated insurers to offer coverage for autism treatments. Those measures were opposed by business and insurance groups that say mandating coverage would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Supporters of an insurance mandate say it would save Michigan money in the long run while helping families with autistic children.

Previous bills that would have mandated insurance companies to offer the coverage died in the Legislature, most recently last year in the Republican-led Senate.

2011
2:53 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

A look back: Michigan Radio's arts and culture coverage

Image by John Wilson Michigan Radio

As part of Michigan Radio's end-of-year look back at some of the more notable stories, here's a collection of 2011 arts and culture stories that we feel deserve another look:

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Autism
4:00 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Autistic kids practice social skills at the bowling alley

Kids with autism struggle with reading non-verbal cues, like facial expressions. They also have a tough time knowing the right words to say. That’s why there are social skills clubs for kids with autism.

One such club meets regularly at Bel-Mark Lanes in Ann Arbor. There are three different groups based on age, and this particular group includes kids in junior high and high school.

After a little bowling, and cheering each other on, everybody heads back to a side room.

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Science/Medicine
12:58 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Snyder unveils health care goals for citizens, state government

Gov. Rick Snyder weighs in 192 pounds today at his press conference in Grand Rapids. He tells the crowd he wants to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder wants people in Michigan to do more to promote their own health. He also outlined policies he’d like to see legislators pass to help lower health care costs and improve access.

Snyder says he wants Michigan to create a health care exchange: a place where individuals can compare health care insurance.

The new federal health care law mandates states create their own exchange, join a regional one or wait until the federal exchange is in place.

“Having the idea of having an exchange done right is a good idea and my view is Michigan should establish one. We shouldn’t wait and say the federal government is going tell us it’s their exchange.”

Snyder wants to reform the state’s health code, improve health care for veterans and children with autism. He also wants to reduce regulations on health care professionals.

Education
3:47 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Study: Educators need more training to help students with autism

MSU researchers say Michigan educators could better serve students on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
user frank juarez Flickr

According to Michigan State University researchers, many educators in the state are not using some of the most effective teaching methods  when working with the more than 15,000 Michigan students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Summer Ferreri, an MSU assistant professor of special education, and Sara Bolt, an MSU associate professor of school psychology conducted the study.

Using data from more than 200 school professionals, 34 parents of students with ASD, and classroom observations, the researchers found that more than 40 percent of the educators were not using techniques known as "Applied Behavior Analysis", and "Social Stories" (a method for teaching social skills to children with autism).

They also found it difficult to "access statewide data on students with ASD" and "concluded that better access is crucial to determine whether the services schools provide are actually helping students succeed."

From the MSU press release:

Suzanne Wilson, a University Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at MSU, said autism education is one of the most pressing issues facing educators today.

“While autism rates have rapidly increased, many new and experienced teachers have little to no experience working with children with autism,” Wilson said.  "Without the appropriate education, new teachers could, at worst, marginalize these students and, at best, be supportive but not effective.”

The researchers also found that 26% ASD students in Michigan "never or rarely had learning opportunities that reflected the general education curriculum."

And "one-third of the 194 Michigan teaching professionals responding said their students with ASD wouldn’t meet any grade-level achievement standards."

The findings of the research will be presented to the State Board of Education tomorrow (September 13). The study was conducted with funding from the Weiser family, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Skillman Foundation.

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Science/Medicine
10:13 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Michigan autism center to close after director leaves

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan plans to close its well-known, decade-old autism center when its director leaves this fall for a new post with a New York venture.

AnnArbor.com reports that Catherine Lord, director of the University of Michigan's Autism and Communication Disorders Center, plans to leave to head a joint effort between Columbia University
Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Lord says her two grown children who live in New York City drove her decision. The new Institute for Brain Development is to open next year.

Lord says a psychologist and a small number of researchers and staff will follow her to New York.

Lord says the Michigan center provides services for 300 to 400 people. Some federally funded research programs will continue.

State Legislature
6:38 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Autism debate to continue next year

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/Flickr

It's expected that the debate over whether insurance companies should be required to cover autism treatments for children will continue at the state Capitol next year.

Legislation that would have required insurance companies to cover autism treatments stalled in the GOP-led state Senate in the final hours of the 2009-2010 legislative session.

Republican Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley has an autistic daughter.  He's been one of the most vocal proponents of the reforms.  Calley said:

Eventually the facts will catch up with the decision-makers and this will happen. I plan to advocate for this starting immediately next year and help education the incoming members, the new members, on this issue, and find a solution for the 15,000 families in Michigan that are struggling through this right now.

Calley said he hopes leaders in next year’s Republican-controlled House and Senate will approve the reforms.

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