We’ve heard the statistics – Autism rates in NJ are the highest in the nation. About 1 in every 94 children in New Jersey are diagnosed with the genetically based neurological disorder. Nationwide it’s more like 1 in every 150.
Well, it turns out that the thinking on this has evolved…although perhaps not for everyone.
Advocates now say that the reason for the discrepancy may actually be a testament to better diagnosis and reporting in NJ rather than some weird undetectable environmental factor. Of course, that doesn’t really come close to solving the problem for parents who are burdened with laying out money for treatment.
So, the Assembly Appropriations and the Senate Health committees passed similar bills that will require insurers to cover more of the treatments and costs that come with early intervention.
Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts has championed this bill and says it will come up for a full vote soon. He was joined in giving testimony before the committees by Bob Wright, the former CEO of NBC Universal. Wright co-founded an advocacy group in 2005 called Autism Speaks after his grandchild Christian was diagnosed with the disorder.
Naturally, the insurance companies are opposed to this. They say NJ already passed a parity law for biologically based mental illnesses in 1999, which covered autism. This bill goes even further, which the industry claims will increase costs for small businesses.