Miss America is almost here!
I met with Governor Dayton not only to give him the facts about autism prevalence, but also to promote important legislative action related to helping individuals affected by the disorder. One particular piece of legislation was the autism insurance reform bill, House File 204, that did not pass last year. Sponsored in the Minnesota State House by State Representative Kim Norton (District 29B), HF 204 includes coverage of the diagnosis, evaluation, and medically necessary treatments and therapies for ASD. Many states do not require private insurance companies to cover even essential autism treatments and services. Consequently, families often pay out-of-pocket for services that can cost more that $50,000 per year, that is, if they can afford it. Passing this bill this year is of the upmost importance because early diagnosis and intervention are key to helping individuals with ASD thrive in our society. By requiring insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, we are increasing the likelihood of individuals with ASD becoming gainfully employed, contributing members of society later in life.
Governor Dayton was extremely receptive to my message. He has offered to arrange for me to speak at a breakfast at the Governor's residence to legislators, lobbyists, task force members, and others in the political field connected to ASD to "light a fire" under the issue, as he put it. He also hopes to connect me with Representative Kim Norton so that I can help pass the important autism insurance reform bill this year. Governor Dayton also has a personal connection to ASD through his nephew, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I love to sing!