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Autism Health Coverage Gains Florida Gov. Support

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:01 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Thimerosal, Autism

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signs a bill mandating large health insurers cover autism.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Fl Gov./ source: state of Florida


Florida’s Gov. Charlie Crist has signed into law legislation requiring large health insurance companies cover treatment for autistic children.

Flanked by former Miami Dolphins Dan Marino, Crist said companies will be required to cover as much as $36,000 a year.

Marino has a 20-year- old son who is in college but has struggled with autism.  Even though he’s been able to support his son and his treatment, he says many families cannot.

“He’s in college, doing very well, and he’s a direct result of early intervention,” Marino said, adding that his son has had speech, behavioral and occupational therapy since an early age.

“It’s a very proud day for me to be a Floridian,” Marino said.

The bill was the last bit of legislation before the Florida Legislature adjourned May 2.  The coverage should impact as many as 8,000 Florida children whose parents are covered under large group insurance plans.

The bill requires health insurance companies to begin negotiating with the state on how they plan to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism-related disorders.

Any company that does not enter into such agreements will have to do so by July, 2009.  The requirement only applies to large insurance providers. Those receiving insurance coverage through a small business or who have individual plans may not qualify.  The coverage cap over a lifetime is $200,000.

This is a very happy day for an awful lot of people," said Crist.

Left out of the picture are people who do not have any insurance at all. 

Originally a House-proposed plan covered children with Down’s syndrome or spinal bifida and other disabilities, but was defeated because of the cost.  The sponsor of the measure Sen. Steve Geller, D-Cooper City hopes lawmakers will expand the bill to cover the uninsured.  

Some Floridians commenting on this story today complain that they should not have to shoulder the greater cost of covering children with disabilities.

Autism continues to explode in this country affecting now one out of 150 children.  

Dan Marino is one of about 20 individuals appointed to Gov. Crist’s Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders formed last March. They will be reviewing efforts by the state agencies, encouraging private-public partnerships and helping families learn about autism and develop a strategy for early intervention.

The leading theories on its cause range from the mercury-based preservative in childhood vaccines, thimerosal, to a pre-existing conditions in some children who cannot process a live virus.  A California study recently looked into the possibility that pyrethrins, the pesticide found in bug killers and pet shampoos, may violate the blood-brain barrier when used by pregnant women and cause autism.

A rally is planned for June 4th, in Washington D.C. where families and activist actress, Jenny McCarthy and her partner, actor Jim Carrey plan to march the streets in front of the Capitol Building. They want the government to reassess the schedule of mandatory childhood vaccines.

Even former National Institutes of Health director, Dr. Bernadine Healy, last week opened the door to the possibility that some children have conditions that do not allow them to process vaccines for whatever reason.

“Public health has been too quick to dismiss concerns of families,” Dr. Healy said in a CBS interview last week.

She is referring to the medical establishment as a whole and a 2004 Institute of Medicine panel that found no credible evidence that there is a link between autism and thimerosal in vaccines.

Misunderstandings and discomfort with autism continues.

In Minnesota, a Catholic priest has filed a restraining order telling parents their autistic 13-year-old cannot attend church because he is disruptive.  #

1 Comment

Posted by Les
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 1:58 AM EST

It is important for the public to know that increasing paternal age past 32 is a major risk factor for autism, schizophrenia, mental retardation and other genetic disorders.

Comments for this article are closed.

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