Friday, November 21, 2008

Illinois Law Requires Health Insurers To Cover Autism Treatments

Illinois is poised to become a North American autism treatment leader by requiring insurers to provide coverage, up to $36,000, for autism treatments. CBS2Chicago reports that the Illinois legislation has passed and is awaiting the signature of Governor Rod Blagojevich who applauded the passage of the legislation and who fought for it over the past year.

Here in Canada we have a public health care system but autism treatment is not dealt with by our federal or provincial health departments. Our federal Health Ministers have provided no meaningful assistance or leadership on autism treatment and our provincial governments fund autism treatments, to different degrees, as social services not as medical treatments.

Provincial governments provided autism treatment as a social service to strengthen their positions before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Auton case where the SCC decided that ABA autism treatment was not medically necessary treatment, as defined by the provincial legislature, and for that reason no discrimination contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights arose. The Court's decision was essentially a bow of deference to the policy making authority of legislatures.

New Brunswick was one of the provinces which adopted the social services characterization autism treatment as the Auton case made its way to the Supreme Court. Here the Department of Health had primary carriage of issues relating to autistic disorders and other autism spectrum disorders. On April 1, 2003 the Minister of Health announced some funding for autism programs in New Brunswick. Shortly thereafter the primary responsibility for autism "services" was transferred to the Department of Family and Community Services (now called the Department of Social Development) where it remains to this day.

Illinois and Governor Blagojevich deserve great credit for their honest and determined effort to provide autism treatment coverage for Illinois children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism treatment is a health and medical treatment not a social service. That autism reality, abandoned in Canada for legal strategic reasons is confirmed in this Illinois legislation

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1 comment:

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