Saturday, June 09, 2007

Autism Heroes and Zeros No. 1


Autism Zero - South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who vetoed legislation to require insurance companies and state health plans to cover autism



Autism Heroes - Legislators in the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives who voted to override Governor Sanford's veto


This post is the first in a series about autism heroes and zeros. First on the list of autism zeros is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who vetoed autism legislation. The heroes in the story are autism moms Marcella Ridley, Lorri Unumb and Lisa Rowlings and the SC House and Senate legislators who voted to override the governor's veto.


COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Mark Sanford has vetoed the autism bill, but the legislature overrode that veto. Both the House and the Senate voted in support of the bill Thursday.

The governor said he vetoed it because it would raise health care costs, "Well right now the mandates we've got presently in the system cost us all about $500 a year in insurance coverage. For the working family, $500 added to the price of of your insurance is enough to keep many from getting insurance in the first place. What happens today adds about $50 for a family."

Marcella Ridley spoke to WIS earlier in the week about the bill, "I never thought I'd be sitting here on June fourth - I didn't. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in that."

People call Marcella Ridley, Lorri Unumb and Lisa Rowlings the angels for autism. For two years, the ladies have spearheaded the fight for legislation they believe will help autistic children. Their reasons are personal. Each of the ladies has an autistic child.

Marcella's little guy is named Winston, and the bill is actually named after Lorri's son Ryan.

"These are three moms on a mission," says Senator Joel Lourie. It's a mission the senator has spent a lot of time on. He says the bill would improve treatment options for kids with autism.

And while he says at first insurance companies were hesitant to cover the costs, now everyone has signed off on it, everyone except the governor.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6611170&nav=0RaPTfSq

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vote the SOB out of office!!!!

Derrick said...

My response to the governors reasoning for the veto of Ryan's Law...
Governor Sanford,


Many of us in the autism community received this and last week a response from you concerning your veto over Ryan's Law this past June. As a father of a child with autism, I do not accept your reasoning behind doing so and feel that you remain out of touch with the issue of autism and you still have not bothered to fully educate yourself on the plight that we as families and our children dealing with autism are facing.

First you state: "I understand that this legislation is extremely important to you, your family and many other families across South Carolina...Children and adults who have autism spectrum disorders or other types of developmental disabilities are remarkable people. They change our lives. Through the interest and care of these unique people we learn more about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. Every parent or other family member who has loved and cared for someone with autism is to be commended. The challenges that you face daily are far from understood by many people in South Carolina."

You are correct in your description of how these wonderful people with autism change our lives. My son has done just that. He has taught me so much about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. But obviously Governor Sanford you have never spent much time around any of these children to learn these traits. Your letter is not honest, it shows no love and I see no humility at all! I invite you to spend an entire day with my son and our family as well as other families to understand our plight. And when you write that the challenges we in the autistic community face daily are far from understood by many people in SC…Governor, it may be true that most people can not understand those challenges first hand but they did realize that they existed and in doing so, they wrote their senators and representatives and even you asking for their and your support for Ryan's Law. The Senate and the House heard the voice of the people and understood. You ignored them and us and vetoed the bill. I think that the people of SC have a greater understanding of the challenges we in the autism community face than you ever will!

You then go on to write: "Please understand that my veto of the legislation you wrote to me about is not an indication of any lack of respect on my part for those with autism and their families." Governor, it is just that. You show that by your clear lack of knowledge about autism and all that goes with it. You go on to explain that you are against insurance mandates in general and claim that Ryan's Law will make insurance unaffordable to many families when even the insurance industry has stated that the increase will be less than 1%. Plus, small businesses and individual policies are not included in the mandate. You also fail to mention the savings to the taxpayers that will result in helping these kids now so that they can become taxpaying citizens themselves in the future instead of wards of the state.

You then go on to talk about the PDD Waiver that was created in 2006 during the Autism Communities first try at passing Ryan's Law: "Last year, as you may know, a pilot program was started in which $3 million was appropriated to the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. This money allowed the Department to develop a new Medicaid Pilot Project to treat children ages 3 through 10 who have been diagnosed by age 8 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I have been impressed with studies indicating that early intervention can make a positive difference in the lives of children with autism - which is why I supported this project. Right now it's helping 130 children with autism." You said that you supported this program but that is not true. In June of 2006 you vetoed the entire budget which included the provision for the PDD Waiver on the very night that you won the Republican Primary. The legislature, thank God, over rode your veto. Oh boy, 130 children. What about the rest of them? Governor, there are many more than 130 children needing ABA therapy to treat their autism in SC. 1 in every 150 children in South Carolinians will be diagnosed with autism this year governor.

You continue: "Speaking recently to a member of a non-profit agency who has been approved as one of these Medicaid providers, I learned that they do not bill insurance companies. This non-profit agency specializes in treating clients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and advocates a program based on early intervention and family participation. It's having remarkable results and doesn't affect insurance premiums." Governor, they do not bill insurance companies because the insurance companies will not cover the cost of these therapies. At least not until July of next year thanks to Ryan's Law. And if you believe that the Free Market will find a solution then please explain why after so long it has not done so. Governor, that is why we came to the legislature for help. I didn't just wake up one morning after 8 years of having a son with autism and say to myself, Derrick, today you need to ask the government to help you out. And if this non-profit agency is a qualified provider for the PDD Waiver, then that means the program this agency provides that you describe in your letter is called ABA. These are the services we the autism community asked for during the creation of the PDD Waiver and Ryan's Law. It was the autism community and the People of SC along with the help of the Legislature that created the PDD Waiver and Ryan's Law governor. We know that early intervention and family participation is a part of ABA. Obviously you do not! And the reason it doesn't affect insurance premiums is once again because insurance was not required to cover it. So how do you propose that families pay for this service? You forgot to mention that even through this agency, the cost of these therapies still run up to, if not more than $50,000 a year! Do you really think that the average South Carolinian can afford that?

You finish by writing "I understand that this issue is a deeply troubling one for many people. It was one of the more difficult decisions I've had to make as Governor given the very real hardships families affected by autism must face. In the end, I had to cast the veto I did because of the connection between enhanced quality for some families and eliminating the option of coverage for other families due to the rise in cost for all with mandated coverage. Again, I appreciate hearing from you."

Governor, it is obvious to the entire autism community and to everyone in SC that supported our efforts by writing not only to the legislators but to you as well, that you did not loose any sleep while placing your veto on this bill. Your cruel veto of Ryan's Law and this response have shown us all your continued lack of understanding of the condition called Autism and this latest response is just pouring more salt into the wound. If you were trying to score points, you have failed. You should have just apologized for the veto and admitted that you made an uninformed decision. Then you may have had a chance at forgiveness! Bravo to the State Legislature! At least they listen to the people of SC for whom they serve!

Derrick Howle
203 Biscayne Drive
Greenville, SC 29615
864-292-6116


-----Original Message-----
From: Governor Mark Sanford [mailto:governor@oepp.sc.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:06 PM
To: Howle Derrick, TS-56
Subject: Your Correspondence

TO: Mr. Derrick Howle
derrick.howle@bmwmc.com

Derrick,

Thank you for writing to me regarding your support for S. 20, R-85. I appreciate you taking the time to express your feelings and views with me, and I understand that this legislation is extremely important to you, your family and many other families across South Carolina. My decision was very difficult and I want to assure you that I did not take this lightly.

Children and adults who have autism spectrum disorders or other types of developmental disabilities are remarkable people. They change our lives. Through the interest and care of these unique people, we learn more about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. Every parent or other family member who has loved and cared for someone with autism is to be commended. The challenges that you face daily are far from understood by many people in South Carolina.

Please understand that my veto of the legislation you wrote to me about is not an indication of any lack of respect on my part for those with autism and their families. The bill itself was about an insurance mandate, and that was the basis for my evaluation. The Department of Insurance reports that all insurance companies in South Carolina are required by law to provide more than 30 different benefits - irrespective of whether the families who purchase insurance with one or another of those companies need those benefits. In total, these mandates cost South Carolina families almost $500 a year.

Last year, as you may know, a pilot program was started in which $3 million was appropriated to the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. This money allowed the Department to develop a new Medicaid Pilot Project to treat children ages 3 through 10 who have been diagnosed by age 8 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I have been impressed with studies indicating that early intervention can make a positive difference in the lives of children with autism - which is why I supported this project. Right now it's helping 130 children with autism.

Speaking recently to a member of a non-profit agency who has been approved as one of these Medicaid providers, I learned that they do not bill insurance companies. This non-profit agency specializes in treating clients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and advocates a program based on early intervention and family participation. It's having remarkable results and doesn't affect insurance premiums.

The bill I vetoed, by contrast, enhances the quality of insurance packages for families with autistic children but also raises the cost of insurance for families across the state - thus making it more difficult for them to purchase packages suitable to their needs.

I understand that this issue is a deeply troubling one for many people. It was one of the more difficult decisions I've had to make as Governor given the very real hardships families affected by autism must face. In the end, I had to cast the veto I did because of the connection between enhanced quality for some families and eliminating the option of coverage for other families due to the rise in cost for all with mandated coverage. Again, I appreciate hearing from you.

Mark

Derrick said...

Here is my response to the governor's recent explination of his veto of Ryan's Law in SC...

Governor Sanford,


Many of us in the autism community received this and last week a response from you concerning your veto over Ryan's Law this past June. As a father of a child with autism, I do not accept your reasoning behind doing so and feel that you remain out of touch with the issue of autism and you still have not bothered to fully educate yourself on the plight that we as families and our children dealing with autism are facing.

First you state: "I understand that this legislation is extremely important to you, your family and many other families across South Carolina...Children and adults who have autism spectrum disorders or other types of developmental disabilities are remarkable people. They change our lives. Through the interest and care of these unique people we learn more about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. Every parent or other family member who has loved and cared for someone with autism is to be commended. The challenges that you face daily are far from understood by many people in South Carolina."

You are correct in your description of how these wonderful people with autism change our lives. My son has done just that. He has taught me so much about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. But obviously Governor Sanford you have never spent much time around any of these children to learn these traits. Your letter is not honest, it shows no love and I see no humility at all! I invite you to spend an entire day with my son and our family as well as other families to understand our plight. And when you write that the challenges we in the autistic community face daily are far from understood by many people in SC…Governor, it may be true that most people can not understand those challenges first hand but they did realize that they existed and in doing so, they wrote their senators and representatives and even you asking for their and your support for Ryan's Law. The Senate and the House heard the voice of the people and understood. You ignored them and us and vetoed the bill. I think that the people of SC have a greater understanding of the challenges we in the autism community face than you ever will!

You then go on to write: "Please understand that my veto of the legislation you wrote to me about is not an indication of any lack of respect on my part for those with autism and their families." Governor, it is just that. You show that by your clear lack of knowledge about autism and all that goes with it. You go on to explain that you are against insurance mandates in general and claim that Ryan's Law will make insurance unaffordable to many families when even the insurance industry has stated that the increase will be less than 1%. Plus, small businesses and individual policies are not included in the mandate. You also fail to mention the savings to the taxpayers that will result in helping these kids now so that they can become taxpaying citizens themselves in the future instead of wards of the state.

You then go on to talk about the PDD Waiver that was created in 2006 during the Autism Communities first try at passing Ryan's Law: "Last year, as you may know, a pilot program was started in which $3 million was appropriated to the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. This money allowed the Department to develop a new Medicaid Pilot Project to treat children ages 3 through 10 who have been diagnosed by age 8 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I have been impressed with studies indicating that early intervention can make a positive difference in the lives of children with autism - which is why I supported this project. Right now it's helping 130 children with autism." You said that you supported this program but that is not true. In June of 2006 you vetoed the entire budget which included the provision for the PDD Waiver on the very night that you won the Republican Primary. The legislature, thank God, over rode your veto. Oh boy, 130 children. What about the rest of them? Governor, there are many more than 130 children needing ABA therapy to treat their autism in SC. 1 in every 150 children in South Carolinians will be diagnosed with autism this year governor.

You continue: "Speaking recently to a member of a non-profit agency who has been approved as one of these Medicaid providers, I learned that they do not bill insurance companies. This non-profit agency specializes in treating clients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and advocates a program based on early intervention and family participation. It's having remarkable results and doesn't affect insurance premiums." Governor, they do not bill insurance companies because the insurance companies will not cover the cost of these therapies. At least not until July of next year thanks to Ryan's Law. And if you believe that the Free Market will find a solution then please explain why after so long it has not done so. Governor, that is why we came to the legislature for help. I didn't just wake up one morning after 8 years of having a son with autism and say to myself, Derrick, today you need to ask the government to help you out. And if this non-profit agency is a qualified provider for the PDD Waiver, then that means the program this agency provides that you describe in your letter is called ABA. These are the services we the autism community asked for during the creation of the PDD Waiver and Ryan's Law. It was the autism community and the People of SC along with the help of the Legislature that created the PDD Waiver and Ryan's Law governor. We know that early intervention and family participation is a part of ABA. Obviously you do not! And the reason it doesn't affect insurance premiums is once again because insurance was not required to cover it. So how do you propose that families pay for this service? You forgot to mention that even through this agency, the cost of these therapies still run up to, if not more than $50,000 a year! Do you really think that the average South Carolinian can afford that?

You finish by writing "I understand that this issue is a deeply troubling one for many people. It was one of the more difficult decisions I've had to make as Governor given the very real hardships families affected by autism must face. In the end, I had to cast the veto I did because of the connection between enhanced quality for some families and eliminating the option of coverage for other families due to the rise in cost for all with mandated coverage. Again, I appreciate hearing from you."

Governor, it is obvious to the entire autism community and to everyone in SC that supported our efforts by writing not only to the legislators but to you as well, that you did not loose any sleep while placing your veto on this bill. Your cruel veto of Ryan's Law and this response have shown us all your continued lack of understanding of the condition called Autism and this latest response is just pouring more salt into the wound. If you were trying to score points, you have failed. You should have just apologized for the veto and admitted that you made an uninformed decision. Then you may have had a chance at forgiveness! Bravo to the State Legislature! At least they listen to the people of SC for whom they serve!

Derrick Howle
203 Biscayne Drive
Greenville, SC 29615
864-292-6116


-----Original Message-----
From: Governor Mark Sanford [mailto:governor@oepp.sc.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:06 PM
To: Howle Derrick, TS-56
Subject: Your Correspondence

TO: Mr. Derrick Howle
derrick.howle@bmwmc.com

Derrick,

Thank you for writing to me regarding your support for S. 20, R-85. I appreciate you taking the time to express your feelings and views with me, and I understand that this legislation is extremely important to you, your family and many other families across South Carolina. My decision was very difficult and I want to assure you that I did not take this lightly.

Children and adults who have autism spectrum disorders or other types of developmental disabilities are remarkable people. They change our lives. Through the interest and care of these unique people, we learn more about honesty, about the ability to love and about humility. Every parent or other family member who has loved and cared for someone with autism is to be commended. The challenges that you face daily are far from understood by many people in South Carolina.

Please understand that my veto of the legislation you wrote to me about is not an indication of any lack of respect on my part for those with autism and their families. The bill itself was about an insurance mandate, and that was the basis for my evaluation. The Department of Insurance reports that all insurance companies in South Carolina are required by law to provide more than 30 different benefits - irrespective of whether the families who purchase insurance with one or another of those companies need those benefits. In total, these mandates cost South Carolina families almost $500 a year.

Last year, as you may know, a pilot program was started in which $3 million was appropriated to the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. This money allowed the Department to develop a new Medicaid Pilot Project to treat children ages 3 through 10 who have been diagnosed by age 8 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I have been impressed with studies indicating that early intervention can make a positive difference in the lives of children with autism - which is why I supported this project. Right now it's helping 130 children with autism.

Speaking recently to a member of a non-profit agency who has been approved as one of these Medicaid providers, I learned that they do not bill insurance companies. This non-profit agency specializes in treating clients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and advocates a program based on early intervention and family participation. It's having remarkable results and doesn't affect insurance premiums.

The bill I vetoed, by contrast, enhances the quality of insurance packages for families with autistic children but also raises the cost of insurance for families across the state - thus making it more difficult for them to purchase packages suitable to their needs.

I understand that this issue is a deeply troubling one for many people. It was one of the more difficult decisions I've had to make as Governor given the very real hardships families affected by autism must face. In the end, I had to cast the veto I did because of the connection between enhanced quality for some families and eliminating the option of coverage for other families due to the rise in cost for all with mandated coverage. Again, I appreciate hearing from you.

Mark