Sunday, January 15, 2006

Letter to Senate Banking & Insurance Committee

Some of the parents who attended the January 12th hearing were prepared to speak and to present written stories about their children, but did not get an opportunity. If you are one of those parents, please consider sending your child's story to the members of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, which will consider our bill next. Bill Bauer wrote a beautiful letter, which he has given me permission to copy here:

From: Margaret and Bill Bauer
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 5:56 PM

Subject: Ryan's Law

Dear Members of The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee:

Thank you for your time and attention to the very serious matter of insurance coverage for therapies of children with Autism. I believe you will all agree that the amount of support shown in the room yesterday is evidence of the importance of this matter, and I know all of your constituents will appreciate your attention to it.

Attached please find a copy of my son’s story. I was unable to speak yesterday, and would appreciate it being entered into the committee’s record. While the letter speaks for itself, the long and the short of it is that my now six and half year old son has gone from a three year old with almost no language or social skills to one of the ‘indistinguishable’ people with Autism who is reading and doing math at a sixth grade level in a typical classroom in Richland County School District One. He is well on his way from being a tax user to someone who I’m sure will contribute greatly to the tax base.

There are several points I’d like to make in this email since I wasn’t able to speak during the meeting.

First, I want to, again, thank you for your consideration of this bill.

Second, I want to make sure that you all understand that nobody is asking the government to step in and take control of or pay for anything. Insurance companies are in the business of making a profit, which I am all in favor of. But they make that profit by pooling the risk of those that they insure, the risk that one of their policy holders will get sick and need coverage. Well, we’ve got an epidemic of sick children stricken with this disease and it is time for the insurance companies to do what they are required to do.

Lastly, I’d like to address the gentleman who was representing the insurance companies. I appreciate the time that members of the group supporting Ryan’s Law were given by your subcommittee, as well as the time the insurance company representative was given. I was very interested to see in how this entire process begins, as well as the views held by both sides of this issue. What I didn’t like was the attitude this particular lobbyist had as he approached the lectern to take his turn. You may or may not be aware, but he made a comment to the effect that he thought he might should have worn a ‘Darth Vader costume’. While I certainly agree with his analogy to himself, I think that was neither the time nor the place for that type of humor. This speaks directly to the lack of interest and respect his organization holds for this opportunity to do what is right.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to this bill having its opportunity on the Senate floor.


Bill Bauer


Margaret & Bill Bauer

January 15, 2006

Dear Legislator:

We are writing you this letter regarding our son, Wills Bauer. Wills is a six and half year old who was diagnosed four years ago with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

When Wills was diagnosed, his pediatricians, Dr. Laura Ledlie and Dr. Don Wuori, both recommended intensive ABA therapy (Autism therapy) be started immediately. This included 40 hours per week of ABA, two hours per week of speech therapy, and 1 hour per week of occupational therapy. All three types of therapy were provided by private practitioners.
Throughout the program, the amount of time necessary for Wills’ therapy decreased. As his verbal skills began to improve through consistent work from therapists, Wills was able to enter a preschool program and “learn to learn” similarly to the “typical” children. His therapy hours decreased over several years until it became only necessary for Wills to be seen once a week by his therapists. Currently, Wills is not receiving therapy as he has ‘graduated’ from his prescribed program.

The reason for this graduation is the early intervention and intensive therapy that Wills received. He is now in a typical first grade classroom at Brennen Elementary in Columbia’s Richland County School District One. Wills began the program at 2 ½ with very limited vocabulary, only speaking 3-5 words. By the age of three he had some sentence usage. Because of the therapy he received, Wills has blossomed. This first grader now reads at a 6th grade level and is doing 5th grade level math. He has friends, loves video games and plays well with his peers. All of this is due to the intensive therapy that Wills received early on. While he does have a shadow in his first grade classroom, the shadow’s purpose is to simply keep Wills on task, not to babysit him. The fact that he is in a mainstreamed classroom and is performing at an above average level in this classroom is due to the ABA therapy he received prior to starting elementary school.

Unfortunately, the cost of the ABA therapy limits many families from being able to provide their autistic children with this very important program. Wills’ program cost an average of $1700 per month, in addition to the hourly cost of “line therapists” trained by the program coordinator to work daily with him. For years, we have had a very good insurance program and have paid our premiums in order to cover all of our family’s medical expenses. We were sickened to find out that private insurance typically does not cover the cost of autism therapy, or speech therapy, for children who are not developing verbal skills. Even with a medical diagnosis, and a Doctor’s referral, insurance companies do not consider the therapy necessary. They would gladly pay for marriage therapy or mental therapy if the need should arise. Instead, we are expected to pay out of pocket or sit back and send these children into the special education system for the rest of their lives. All the while knowing that so many of them could have the same or similar results to Wills’ and save taxpayers the great expense that this “epidemic” is going to cost us all in special education. Insurance should be responsible for providing the coverage for these children that they need and is deemed necessary by their physicians.

Please consider Wills’ success story when you review this bill. We truly appreciate your support and believe that the taxpayers of South Carolina will as well. It will ultimately save them their hard earned tax dollars that can be better utilized elsewhere, and that shouldn’t be used based on the fact that it is the insurance companies’ responsibility to cover all illnesses of those that they insure.

Thank you for your helping to make Ryan’s Law a reality.


Blogger Lisa R said...

How to help with Ryan's Law now- To everyone who is willing to call or has called his state senator and his state representative- Thank you, and please send your legislators' response along with your contact info to include mailing address, email,and phone number to this address- are centralizing our database and this will insure we have a constituent for each legislator in our state. Thank you for your help, and please ask at least 3 people to contact their legislators and email their results too.
Lisa Rollins, parent of child with autism

1:36 PM  
Blogger bhargava said...

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5:08 AM  

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