The founder of Autism Speaks took time during his appearance on a national news program to discuss North Carolina Senator Phil Berger.
At the end of his interview, Bob Wright asked the host to let him add one last mention concerning autism insurance.
Wright pointed out, an autism insurance reform bill has passed the North Carolina House twice, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.
It’s up to Senate leadership like President Pro Tempore Phil Berger to bring it up for a vote.
Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks, explained to FOX8, “We want Senator Berger to do his job and that is- bring this up for a vote whether he supports it or not. I personally have met with more than a dozen senators over the last couple of weeks and know we have the support of the broader senate body.”
When FOX8 reached out to Senator Berger’s office Monday and Thursday, his staff said he was unavailable for an interview.
They did provide a statement earlier this week outlining why Berger opposed the measure.
“The Senate is committed to keeping health insurance affordable for all North Carolinians – that’s why we have serious concerns about creating additional government mandates for insurance coverage, which history has shown can increase the cost of insurance coverage for families and small businesses.”
Feld said 37 other states have passed similar reform and insurance premiums for policyholders increased an average of 31 cents per month.
“This bill will not cost the taxpayers of North Carolina! In fact it will save them millions of dollars over time because kids who don’t get early intervention … will be in public schools and desperately in need of a lot more support and more services,” Feld added.
Berger’s staff said under current law, “insurance companies must offer coverage for medical expenses related to autism, including diagnosis and many therapies and treatments.”
But coverage does not extend to Applied Behavioral Analysis, a type of therapy psychologists Fox8 interviewed say is the best treatment for autism. It can cost families forty to sixty thousand dollars per year since it’s not covered by insurance.
Feld concluded, “There are 60,000 families in North Carolina who would benefit from this bill. That’s a lot of people. They’ve been doing the right thing over all these years paying their insurance premiums. And I know that in his heart Senator Berger knows this is the right things for these families. So I just encourage him to do it sooner rather than later.”
Some advocates are hopeful a vote could be possible when the Senate meets again in November.