Legislation requiring insurers cover costs of children with autism was the subject of a Capitol hearing Monday. Doctor Katie Woody of Milwaukee told the Senate Committee on Public Health that quality of treatment is suffering, under the current waiting list for state assistance to kids with autism. "Optimal hours would be 35 to 40 one-on-one a week," said. "It's watered down. The one-on-one is really now at about 25 hours a week."
"After paying insurance premiums for almost 20 years, and never submitting a major claim, our son was denied any insurance for the recommended treatment for autism," said Bill Bingen, a Burlington resident whose son Joey is autistic. Bingen and his wife have been able to provide coverage for Joey's autism by taking extra jobs and with the financial help of family members.
"Until recently, autism was considered a lifelong disability with poor prognosis," said state Senator Judy Robson, the Beloit Democrat who's author of the Senate version of the mandate legislation. "Now, with early, appropriate, intensive treatment, children and their families can see dramatic improvements."
"Insurers have ignored an ethical obligation to update their coverage," in the wake of research which has proven the benefits of early treatment for autistic children, said Dr. Woody. "It smacks of discrimination."
Support for the legislation is not unanimous among those with autistic children – state Representative Kevin Peterson told the Senate committee that the bill would still leave many autistic children without coverage.