TOPEKA, Kan. - While many Kansas legislators are doing their best to deprive Kansans of any benefits of the health reform efforts in Congress, parents of children with autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other autism spectrum conditions are working to get Kate's Law passed again this year. These parents have found that when they try to get health insurance coverage for their children, they often experience dead-ends, run-arounds, and delays. This even though autism spectrum disorders have long been documented as medical conditions that require medical treatment.
Right now many parents have to change health insurance carriers because of the current tenuous job situation. According to one of these parents, every time her family gets a new health insurance carrier, she goes through months of presenting evidence to the new carrier that her daughter, a teenager with Asperger's, does indeed have a medical condition requiring doctor's visits, drug therapy, and group therapy. This mother was able to have her child diagnosed with Asperger's as a toddler, so the girl does get the school services that she needs. However, she also must have her medical needs attended to in order to be successful in school.
This mother, like many others throughout Kansas, has joined with The Kansas Coalition for Autism Legislation (KCAL). A national group, Autism Speaks, has also joined forces with the local group to initiate a push for Kate's Law to pass the state legislature. During Capitol Push Week at the end of January, these activists gathered in Topeka to meet with President of the Senate Stephen Morris and to distribute information packets to all House members.
Right now, KCAL members are pushing for passage of SB 12 and HB 2367. Each bill requires:
- Private health insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder
- Coverage to be provided to individuals under the age of 21
- Coverage under this bill to be subject to an inflation adjusted maximum benefit of $75,000 annually
- Small businesses (employers with 50 or fewer employees) may "opt out" of providing this coverage
- Coverage of treatments to be provided when prescribed, provided, or ordered for an individual diagnosed with autism by a licensed physician or a licensed psychologist who determines the care to be medically necessary
- Coverage of the following treatments: diagnosis, habilitative or rehabilitative care, pharmacy care, psychiatric care, psychological care, therapeutic care, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- That the bill applies only to fully-funded health plans governed by state.
In order to get more information on Kate's Law, go to the web site: Autism Votes: Kansas:
A check of the House and Senate web sites shows the last action on the bill took place during the 2009 session, when it failed. Kansans who are interested in fair treatment for these children and their families need to contact their senators and representatives to ask them to support this bill. It probably comes as no surprise that private insurance carriers are opposed to this bill.
According to the latest CDC findings, 1 percent of all children are affected by an autism spectrum disorder. That figure means one in 100 children will be born with some form of this condition. This statistic doesn't include family members, educators, and others who live and work with these children every day and cope with the effects of this condition. These children deserve to have the best health care available to them, not just for their sake, but also to make life better for all who care about them.