Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sharrontology Lies... on Autism & Health Care

Now that Sharron Angle has been caught red handed using autistic kids as pawns in her political game of currying favor with teabaggers, she's trying to make excuses for what she did. She tries to fault the legislation passed last past, saying she's just against "government mandates which falsely label other symptoms as autism". So let's take a look at the actual bill at hand, AB 162, to see what's in it.

“A health benefit plan must provide an option of coverage for screening for and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and for treatment of autism spectrum disorders…” [...]

“‘Autism spectrum disorders’ means a neurobiological medical condition including, without limitation, autistic disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.” [...]

“‘Behavioral therapy’ means any interactive therapy derived from evidence-based research, including, without limitation, discrete trial training, early intensive behavioral intervention, intensive intervention programs, pivotal response training and verbal behavior provided by a licensed psychologist, licensed behavior analyst, licensed assistant behavior analyst or certified autism behavior interventionist.” [...]

“‘Applied behavior analysis’ means the design, implementation and evaluation of environmental modifications using behavioral stimuli and consequences to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior, including, without limitation, the use of direct observation, measurement and functional analysis of the relations between environment and behavior.”

Oh wait, so it just deals with autism... No "false labeling of other symptoms" to be found. And contrary to what she said, autistic kids need these treatments!

So what was AB 162 really about? Let's go back to February 2009 to see what the legislature was working on and what they wanted to address.

{Assm. James] Ohrenschall [D-Las Vegas, and the author of AB 192] has also won the support of several Assembly Republicans, including a key advocate, Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury, R-Henderson, who teaches autistic children in the Clark County School District.

For their proponents, these laws offer a win-win: They gather support from an energized and well-organized constituency, and they force the insurance industry to pay for treatment that might otherwise fall to the state or school districts, and, in the case of the Silver State, Nevada Early Intervention Services.

If neither the insurance industry nor the government pays, the burden is left with families with autistic children.

Toddre, who has two autistic children, said, “The financial burden is unbelievable to try to give your child a decent future and a decent life.”

So why was this necessary?

Autism, a developmental disorder often impairing socialization, is now diagnosed in 1 out of every 150 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cost of effective treatment can reach $24,000 to $40,000 per year per child, with additional costs resulting from the various medical conditions that usually accompany autism, according to Ralph Toddre, founder of the Autism Coalition of Nevada, who also sits on the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Insurance companies have traditionally declined to pay for treatment, which usually involves intensive speech and occupational therapy. They assert that the care is not strictly medical even though it arises from a medical condition.

This isn't cheap. Someone has to pay. Insurance can cover it. Or parents can be forced to pay everything out-of-pocket. Or the state can be forced to absorb all the costs. Legislators decided to work with the insurance companies to get them to agree to cover autism related health care.

So why is this care necessary? Republican Assembly Member Melissa Woodbury (R-Henderson) explained.

Autism is referred to by clinicians as Autism Spectrum Disorders, which refers to the wide range of symptoms and functionality among those born with it. The shared symptoms include problems with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or interests, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Without intensive treatment, autistic children will more than likely become wards of the state when they reach adult age.

Woodbury cited research showing 47 percent of children who receive early intervention and at least 30 hours per week of treatment lead independent lives as adults.

Of those who do not, 90 percent need a lifetime of expensive custodial care.

Autism Speaks, an organization devoted to autism awareness, has even more on AB 162 and what it's really about.

So what did we find? Well, AB 162 was written to ensure that insurance companies couldn't deny much needed health care and treatment to kids with autism. That's all. And despite Sharron Angle's attempts to deflect and change the subject to "taxes!" or "immigrants!" or something else that has nothing to do with AB 162 and autism care, she can't deny that she trashed sound policy and defended the supposed "right" of insurance companies to deny care to children because they may be "autistic" and the care they need isn't what she thinks she needs.

And not only is Angle's dismissal of autism care cold hearted, but it's also foolish, as Desert Beacon notes. Early care now means autistic kids can be grow up to be independent adults. It's still shocks me that Sharrontology would deny that. But then again, she does have a history of throwing common sense out the window. And she has a history of lying about her own words and actions when she falls into hot water over them.

1 comment:

  1. As someone with Asberger's Syndrome (a form of Autism), I think she's plain callous.