Saturday January 19th 2019

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Virginia Senator’s Justification for Not Supporting SB 464- Autism Insurance Coverage

I am a citizen living in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I am also a mom of three young boys.  I do not have a child with Autism.  I am fighting to help get more medical services covered by insurance companies.  I recently sent correspondence to Senator Wagner asking him to support the Senate Bill 464 regarding Insurance coverage to include coverage of Autism Spectrum Disorder treatments.  I have copied his response letter he sent to me and hundreds of others.  Read it for yourself, but I cannot fathom the generalities made- that cost for services to those with Autism could be astronomical- well I am just curious what about childhood cancers, or other diseases- those situations require very expensive treatments-are they going to stop covering those diseases then?

Should people that make assumptions about costs of coverage or put a price on our child’s health or future be in office? I ask you how do we have so many delegates that are so out of touch with today’s reality?  Please post a comment and weight in on this issue.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your concerns about Senate
Bill 464. Allow me to share the background of my vote. I submitted
legislation, which passed last year and is now in the Code of Virginia,
that requires any mandated coverage carried by private insurers in Virginia
also be included in the medical insurance plans of state employees. These
employees of the Commonwealth are facing pay cuts, mandatory furloughs and
reduced retirement contributions. The least we can do is provide the same
coverage for them that private businesses must offer. Thus, I submitted an
amendment to SB 464 to require that autism spectrum disorder coverage be
included in the state health plan. I stated that I would not support the
legislation if my amendment was defeated. Subsequent to that defeat I
voted against the bill, since it violates state law.

How supporters of SB 464 can call this bill “a good first step,” is a bit
of a mystery, since it does not include large companies that self-insure,
businesses with less than 50 employees, Medicaid recipients or the
thousands of state employees who deserve coverage as well. It seems to
include only small to medium business insurers that are struggling to stay
afloat and can ill afford yet another insurance rate increase. As the
father of a special needs child, I do understand the challenges of raising
an individual with a disability. However, it is my fear that employees of
such businesses, who receive 80-100% personal insurance coverage from their
employers, will stop purchasing coverage for their spouses and children
because it is simply too expensive, especially in a down economy.

Finally, during the bill’s progress it was stated many times that the bill
caps coverage at $36,000 and that it covers only ages 2-6. However,
according to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, it is illegal under federal law to either cap the dollar amount
or place age restrictions on coverage. Without these limits, the costs
could be astronomical.

I fully understand why parents of autistic children view the world through
that particular prism, but I must represent all of my constituents. I hope
this adequately explains my reasons for voting against SB 464.

Sincerely yours,

Frank W. Wagner

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