“This is a serious condition for which we all have sympathy, but to pick it out among the basket of conditions that aren’t covered or for which insurance is inadequate is just unfair.”
Sen. Tom George (R)
This quote deserves a big WTF. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, the first two words are “What the”. When the Republicans of the Michigan Senate refused to let the autism insurance bill go to a vote, that is what this particular senator had to say. We pay for insurance, why should ANY health ailment not be covered? That’s what insurance is for.
From a personal perspective, I want to pull my hair out. I was so hopeful that Roman would be able to receive more services than he currently does and our insurance would pick up the tab, as they should. My oldest son receives physical therapy at school, but in the summer he continues his therapy and our insurance pays the bill. Why can’t my youngest have the same consideration when it comes to speech, physical and occupational therapies? Apparently because autism just isn’t important enough for the Michigan Senate to mandate it.
I have read differing reports about the unemployment rate of autistic adults. The range is 80 to 90 percent. Yes, that means only 10 to 20 percent of adults with autism are employed. Why is this? Their social and communication skills are lacking because they didn’t receive interventions that could have helped immensely. These are interventions that health insurance could have covered. Without that kind of help for the future generations of autistic people, those numbers are unlikely to change.
I have to admit here that I think the educational system in Michigan has learned much better how to educate those with autism in the past few years. This is going to change those numbers dramatically as well. However, my views on autism education may be skewed. I am told that I am extremely lucky to be living in Ionia county and Portland schools, as they do an exceptional job with autism interventions. No dissent here on that. They are excellent.
But I have heard first hand of other schools not offering full day services to the early childhood age group and no aides in the classrooms or one aide for four or five kids. It’s just ludicrous to think that an educational system like that is preparing our children for their educational careers. I have read that it is suggested that young children with autism need at least 30 hours of one-on-one intervention a week. Roman is exceptional that he gets that much.
So, Michigan Senate, you have failed 15,000 children. You have increased the future costs of supporting the unemployed population of autistic people. You have put even more stress on our already taxed school systems to offer all the support that many families get for their autistic children. At least you made the insurance lobby very happy.