Political Fight Threatens To End Funding For Autism Treatment In This Session


UPDATED: Wednesday December 5, 2012 5:47 PM

The state education department spends over $250 million dollars annually in special education costs for children with autism.

The new bill would make that spending avoidable if certain treatments are made available before school age.

Angela Ramos-Fields co-founded the Living Beyond Autism Foundation and on Wednesday she implored Ohio lawmakers to enact autism insurance reform.

She talked about her emotions when she received the news that her son had autism.

“Elements of disparity, depression, hopelessness,” said Ramos-Fields.

The bill she is supporting would ban state regulated health plans from discriminating against children with autism by refusing to cover proven treatments.

“Grant is my son but at the end of the day when I leave this earth, Grant may rely on the resources of this state,” said Ramos-Fields. . “It is a little disheartening that other states have seen that it provides value and it provides an empowerment element for families.”

Ohio would be the 33rd state to enact it.

While other states have passed similar legislation, there is a reality that it may not get the green light in Ohio because many Republican lawmakers do not support it .

“It's an embarrassment to be honest,” said Mike Hartley.

Hartley has plenty of Republican friends. He’s a former advisor to Gov. John Kasich, among others.

Hartley said partisanship should be put aside.

For him, the issue of autism is personal. His five year old son Xavier was diagnosed just last year.

“All I want and I think all a lot of the parents with children of autism want is the opportunity to provide our children with a full life,” said Hartley.

While business groups oppose the autism insurance mandate on grounds that it's too expensive, there are a growing number of Republican lawmakers jumping onboard.

Gov. John Kasich's office told me today that he supports the discussion, but has not taken a position on the bill.

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