Senate Vote on Autism Mandate Expected

Mar 12, 2012

Measures on the state Senate calendar this week would require health insurance plans to cover autism treatments for children. Supporters of the autism mandate say early treatments can ensure children transition into healthy adults, and ultimately save money on health care costs.

There are an estimated 15,000 children in Michigan diagnosed with autism. But some mental health advocates say there are many more children with other brain disorders – such as severe depression or bi-polar disorder – who would similarly benefit from coverage.

Psychologist Judith Kovach says autism coverage is a good start – but singling out one condition isn’t fair to other families affected by mental illness.  “What do we say to those parents – your children don’t matter?” Kovach says.

Kovach appeared on Michigan Public TV this past weekend.

The autism mandate is backed by Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who has a daughter with autism. They do not support expanding the requirement to cover all brain disorders.