The Senate passed a bill requiring insurance companies to cover ABA therapy* for children suffering from autism and related disorders. It is the only effective method for treating autism. The Senate passed the bill on a 39-6 vote although a small group of conservative senators put up a fight on the floor. The Clarion-Ledger reported:
Senate Bill 2581 won the vote by 39-6. It requires health insurance policies to offer coverage for autism treatment like Applied Behavior Analysis for children ages 2-8. It also regulates the practice of ABA therapy and requires providers obtain state licenses.
Some, though, argued the state shouldn't tell private insurers what to cover and questioned why autism should get special recognition. Led by state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, opponents took turns grilling the bill's main sponsor for roughly a half hour.
They asked why the state shouldn't also mandate health insurers cover obesity, diabetes and Attention Deficit Disorder. They asked why not let the free market decide for itself what to cover. And they likened the measure to Obamacare.
"This is totally getting out of hand," said state Sen. Rita Parks, R-Corinth, who introduced the bill on the floor, after a round of such questions.
McDaniel said he cares about children with autism and agreed the state should do something, but said SB 2581 takes the wrong approach.
State Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, wasn't buying it.
"I would ask you today if we're going to have an ideological battle," he said, "let's not do it at the expense of children with autism."
Joining McDaniel in voting against the measure were Republican Sens. Eugene Clarke, R-Hollandale, Angela Hill, R-Picayune, Tony Smith, R-Poplarville, Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, and Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula. Copy of bill.
Senator McDaniel sent out this email to his supporters yesterday that somehow managed to leave out the word "autism":
The lines have been clearly drawn.
This week in the Mississippi Legislature, my conservative colleagues and I fought for you. We fought for your children. We fought for your freedom.
Senate leadership attempted to pull a bait and switch on Common Core. Late last year Lt. Governor Tate Reeves played politics with the issue by trying to convince the public that he had changed his mind and that he no longer supported Common Core. But, he and his allies this week brought to the floor a bill that will not end Common Core in Mississippi. Instead, it forms a powerless advisory committee to the Board of Education.
Conservative Senators attempted to amend the bill with language that would immediately put parents and teachers in charge of education standards, but the Lt. Governor worked to successfully kill the amendment.
Will Lt. Governor Reeves and those voting for this watered down legislation now try to convince the voting public that they worked to stop Common Core?
Will we let them?
Common Core is a federal takeover of education. It’s as simple as that. Parents and teachers should control what their children are taught, not an overbearing, faceless bureaucracy. Conservatives believe in limiting the government, not giving it more power over our lives.
Unfortunately, Common Core was not the only rejection of liberty we saw this week in Mississippi. The senate also passed a bill requiring insurance companies to expand their health care coverage models. They did this despite the fact that 70% of the insured in Mississippi already have access to this coverage.
Why do these elected officials think they can manage a free market that is already doing the job? Why do they believe they should place mandates on companies when the market is already responding without the heavy hand of government interference?
I can’t stress it enough. We need you now more than ever.
We need good conservative candidates that will engage voters at every level of government and help us fight against the political machinery that puts bureaucrats livelihoods above the rights of working families. We need candidates that recognize the government has no place injecting itself into the business of Mississippi companies with regulations that purport to correct a problem that the market is already responding to.
There are more such attempts on the horizon. We will fight these at every turn. However, we need reinforcements if we hope to stave off this continued attack on freedom. We need to challenge the status quo across the board in statewide races, legislative races and local races.
Those who wish to run for office in the upcoming elections have until February 27th to qualify. We encourage any conservative who is thinking about running to do so. Our UCF Team will begin looking closely at candidates next month to determine who we will support and what resources we can provide.
If you are committed or know of a candidate that will join us in this fight, tell them about UCF today. Join us as a monthly contributing member and help us build the resources to battle against those who play politics with your liberty.
If I accomplish nothing else in my time in office, I hope that I am successful in helping light a fire for liberty in Mississippi that will burn long after I am gone.
I believe strongly that we can make it happen, together.
Kingfish note: Senator McDaniel is correct in that the government should not tell insurance companies or other businesses what goods or services to sell. However, its hard to feel sorry for the insurance companies on this issue when they jumped in bed with Obamacare and sold their souls on a list of mandated coverages. Blue Cross apparently did not cover this therapy until recently. Senator McDaniel can argue about the free market all day long but the truth is Blue Cross has enjoyed a near-monopoly position in Mississippi for quite some time. There has been no free market for health insurance in Mississippi and these people know it. He understands these principles as he probably took antitrust in law school. The services Blue Cross giveth Blue Cross can also taketh away. ABA therapy typically runs $20,000 or more per year.
*The Center for Austism states on its website:
Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance. Many decades of research have validated treatments based on ABA. < a href="http://www.centerforautism.com/aba-therapy.aspx">Explanation of ABA therapy.