New bills address autism, diabetes

We have made great strides at the Statehouse to extend insurance benefits to Ohioans suffering from autism and diabetes. Two bills recently passed

We have made great strides at the Statehouse to extend insurance benefits to Ohioans suffering from autism and diabetes. Two bills recently passed by the House would ensure that those in need have access to necessary, preventative healthcare services. Many of these individuals have health insurance and pay a premium, co-pays, and deductibles, but their policies do not cover needed treatments for these all-too-common illnesses.

House Bill 81, the Diabetes Cost Reduction Act (DCRA), requires health insurance plans in Ohio to cover diabetes treatment, equipment, supplies, nutrition therapy, and self-management education. Ohio is one of only four states in the country that has not passed the DCRA, and all of the states that border us have.

This bill has the potential to result in cost-savings due to the prevention of more expensive health issues down the road as diabetes treatment becomes more widely available. The disease affects more than 1 million Ohioans and is also the sixth-leading cause of death in our state.

The DCRA only requires that insurance plans cover diabetes treatment, not that businesses pay for or even offer to insure their employees. What’s more, the bill also includes a provision that exempts an insurance provider if they can show their rates have increased by more than one percent as a result of the new policy. None of the states with the DCRA have shown any increase in the average cost of health insurance premiums as a result of such policies.

I voted “yes” on HB 81 as it passed out of the House. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

House Bill 8 requires insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). ASD is a complex, life-long neurobiological disorder involving impairments in communication, social, and behavioral domains. Autism crosses all racial, ethnic and social lines, but is four times more common in boys than girls. More than one in 100 babies born today will be diagnosed with ASD, making it more common than all types of pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.

Autism is the fastest-growing disability in our country, and many studies have shown the success of early treatment in combating its affects. Yet, currently, many health insurance companies explicitly exclude coverage for ASD.

The rapid and unexplainable growth in the number of children born with ASD is cause for concern and alarm. It is important that proper treatment is available from a young age to combat the effects this affliction can have in the development of so many children in our state. Insurance rates increased by less than 1 percent in states that enacted similar legislation.

Like House Bill 81, House Bill 8 includes a provision exempting insurance providers from these requirements if they can show that their costs increased by more than one percent as a result of the new policy. The bill also caps required annual coverage at $36,000 a year.

I voted “yes” on House Bill 8 as it passed out of the House. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.