June 06, 2007
HB1919 still needs your help

How typical of the Texas Association of Business.

Parents of children with autism cheered when Texas lawmakers revived a dead bill they say will give families hope, save some from bankruptcy and reduce long-term costs for taxpayers.

But the Texas Association of Business wants Gov. Rick Perry to veto House Bill 1919 because of an amendment that changes the definition of autism from a mental illness to a neurobiological illness and requires insurance companies to cover treatment for 3- to 5-year-olds with the disease.

The autism-insurance measure passed the Senate but languished in the House until lawmakers approved it as an amendment to insurance-related legislation just hours before the legislative session ended May 28.

As with the process of getting this bill passed with the ABA coverage intact, the best thing we all can do now is call Governor Perry's office and ask him to support real family values by signing HB1919. Pete has the details.

"Somebody finally heard us," Cynthia Singleton of Houston said after legislators approved the amendment. "Parents have been struggling for years to be heard and, I think, somebody finally cared enough to help make it happen."

Singleton said she and her husband have spent more than $100,000 on treatment for their 8-year-old son with autism. They financed the treatment by selling a four-bedroom home in West Houston and renting a three-bedroom apartment for more than two years.

I know Cynthia and her family - not as well as Pete and his family, but I know them. But even if I didn't know anyone who was personally affected by this bill, I'd wholeheartedly support it anyway. This is what insurance is for: to help people survive unforeseen setbacks that life deals out. If TAB has its way, this kind of insurance will only be available to those who need it the least.

Perry spokesman Robert Black said the governor and his staff have not decided whether to veto the bill.

Which means you may still be able to have an effect on his decision-making process. Give him a call and tell him what you think. Thanks very much.

UPDATE: More from Dig Deeper Texas, Luke Gilman, Autism Bulletin, and of course Pete.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 06, 2007 to That's our Lege