Yay! Supreme Court! Upheld Affordable Healthcare Act!
I'm sorry if I am politicizing ... but it has to be said:
The fact that the Affordable Healthcare Act was UPHELD today in the Supreme Court was a BIG W-I-N for us, families affected by autism.
Autism Speaks Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act
NEW YORK (June 28, 2012) -- Autism Speaks issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act:
"The need for people with autism to get good quality care is Autism Speaks' first priority. Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act provides clarity to our efforts to achieve that mission. It should be noted that the decision does not affect the autism insurance reform laws enacted by 31 states.
"The Affordable Care Act requires all states to establish a set of 10 'essential health benefits,' one of which is 'Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment.' Congress specifically added 'including behavioral health treatment' to address autism therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis.
"For the past several months, Autism Speaks has raised concerns with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is overseeing the implementation of the ACA, that the requirement for behavioral health treatment coverage is not being pursued. Congress required such treatment be included as an essential health benefit and the U.S. Supreme Court has held the act constitutional. It is now the obligation of HHS to respect the intent of Congress by insisting all states include behavioral health treatment, such as ABA for autism."
Autism Speaks Commends Sen. Menendez for Insisting Autism Therapies Get Covered Under New Federal Health Care Law
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 21, 2012) – Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) pressed U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to insure that the states include behavioral health treatments for autism as they implement the Affordable Care Act, expressing “serious concern” that the federal government’s efforts thus far have fallen short. Autism Speaks applauded the remarks by Senator Menendez, who is among a group of Senate and House champions that continues to fight for a strong federal commitment to meaningful autism insurance coverage.
View the exchange between Senator Menendez and Secretary Sebelius below:
During a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last week, Menendez said Congress in writing the 2010 law “assured all qualified health plans would include behavioral health service as part of the essential benefits package. Among the universe of those who see those benefits are those who have family members in the autism spectrum.”
Peter Bell, Autism Speaks’ executive vice president for programs and services, said, “Autism Speaks applauds Senator Menendez for holding the federal government accountable to the autism community as it implements health care reform. Behavioral health treatments for autism were included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act as an 'essential health benefit' at the approval of Congress. Senator Menendez, along with many other colleagues in both the Senate and the House have been emphatic that HHS require the states to incorporate the coverage as they implement the law."
In recent guidance issued to the states, HHS identified several benchmark plans the states could use as they work towards a 2014 deadline to implement the Affordable Care Act.
“I am concerned that HHS’ recent bulletin on the essential benefits health package refers to states using a benchmark plan as the basis for the essential benefits health package,” Menendez told Sebelius. “But because of the current patchwork of state autism coverage requirements and exemptions, I know I’m not alone in the serious concerns that the benchmarking plan is insufficient to assure that behavioral treatment is available to all qualified health plans as the law dictates it to be.”
Menendez previously had issued a letter to Secretary Sebelius identifying similar concerns and stressing that behavioral health treatments for autism were required by law by Congress. To date, 29 states representing 70% of the U.S. population have enacted autism insurance reform laws that require state-regulated health plans provide coverage for evidence-based autism therapies including behavioral health treatments.