Calley signs legislation requiring autism insurance coverage

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today signed legislation ensuring families will receive insurance support for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

"Michigan's children deserve the highest quality of treatment available," Calley said. "My family and countless others in Michigan have experienced the daily struggles of raising a child with autism, and early care is essential to easing the burden on families, increasing children's progression and reducing the costs of lifelong care on taxpayers."

One in 88 children struggles with an autism spectrum disorder, according to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The wide range of disabilities can result in substantial limitations in self-care, language and comprehension skills, learning, capacity for independent living and other areas.

The Autism Society estimates the lifetime cost of care for an autistic child ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million. Each year, Michigan faces an estimated $56 billion in non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, research, decreases in employee productivity and other costs. However, the Society believes the lifetime cost can be cut by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention. Efforts to provide this crucial early treatment in Michigan will reduce lifetime costs to affected families, the general public and health care providers.

The three-bill package requires Blue Cross Blue Shield, health maintenance organizations and insurers to provide evaluations for diagnosis and evidence-based treatment including psychiatric, psychological and therapeutic care. The legislation also creates an incentive fund allowing carriers to apply for a reimbursement of claims paid for autism diagnosis and treatment.

The package includes Senate Bills 414, 415 and 981, sponsored by state Sens. Mike Green, Tupac Hunter and Randy Richardville, respectively. They now are Public Acts 99-101.

Article V, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.

Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on the bills.

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