Thursday, March 7 2013, 03:51 PM MST
Utah Families Dealing with Autism to Face Another Year of Costs
(KUTV) Utah families dealing with autism will face another year of costs associated with treating the disorder. Senate Bill 55 would have required insurance coverage for children with autism – but the bill has been altered after the sponsor realized it wouldn’t have enough support to pass.
Utah is one of only 18 states left that does not require autism coverage. Yet, Utah has the highest rate of autism in the entire county. One in 47 children in Utah has autism, compared to the national average of one in 88 children.
Parker, a 6-year-old boy with autism, has a hard time knowing how to deal with certain things like noises, changes in routine and social interaction.
“Really, just all the thing that we look at as normal day-to-day things, he has to work so hard to achieve them,” said Parker’s mother, Evelyn.
However, there are programs that can help Parker, and treatments that could enable him to overcome the disorder – but they are costly.
“As a parent, you feel like a failure because you can’t provide what your child needs,” said Evelyn. “But it’s that or we lose our home.”
Senator Brian Shiozawa, an emergency room physician who joined the senate this year, says he believes autism should be covered by medical insurance.
“As a physician, one of the worst things you can do is to not be able to reach out to that patient that you know you can treat and have the methods to do so,” said Shiozawa.
But, Shiozawa’s plan for autism coverage won’t pass this year, leaving families like Parker’s feeling abandoned.
“It makes a lot of parents feel that, myself included, that our kids aren’t worth it, that our kids aren’t important to society,” said Evelyn.
Upon realizing Senate Bill 55 wouldn’t pass, Shiozawa amended the bill.
A passing vote now would double the size of an autism treatment pilot program from 250 kids to 500 kids. The amendment still does not come close to treating the 18,000 kids with autism that live in Utah – but it’s a start.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)