Time to pass therapy coverage

Jun. 11, 2014 @ 03:45 AM

If experts in the field back it, what makes lawmakers smarter to decide it doesn’t work?

That could be a question posed to North Carolina lawmakers as they consider a bill requiring state-regulated insurance companies to cover therapy for autism.

Doctors have said Applied Behavior Analysis “significantly improves autistic behaviors.”

But, since last year’s General Assembly session, lawmakers have balked at the idea of requiring the coverage.

In a July 13, 2013 story in The Daily Courier, Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, first lauded the bill and gave his approval in an initial House vote. But, he turned the other way after learning “it was a mandate that would actually cost us money.”

Then, prior to the 2014 short session, Hager said he favored the bill because of the amount of people it would benefit.

While the bill sailed through the House, it has been held up in the Senate as Senate Insurance Committee Chair Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, never brought the bill for a hearing.

Tuesday, advocates for the bill gathered in Raleigh to ask lawmakers to finally pull it out of its languishing status and pass it.

And, they are right to do so.

Under the bill, the insurance coverage pays up to $36,000 for treatments for children who are diagnosed with autism by the time they turn 8 years old, according to the Associated Press.

Apodaca’s primary concern is not knowing the effects the bill would have on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but Hager countered by suggesting the bill still pass and be looked at if there are negative repercussions on the ACA.

Plausible.

But, at the end of the day, parents of children with autism face steep costs for health care. North Carolina has rates for comprehensive coverage of autism higher than the national average — and while current leadership in Raleigh is against mandates, some mandates are worth the cost if they benefit the residents of our state.

This is not a political issue, it is a quality-of-care issue.

Families need the relief and the cost to insurance companies seems minimal in comparison to the outright benefits to these families.

It is time for the Senate to bring this bill to light and get it done.

The hardship for the families it would benefit aren’t getting any easier.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark