SF314 Authored by Senator Eaton of Brooklyn Center which has lots of West African and other minorities is heard today in Health, Human Services & Housing in Minnesota Senate.
The hearing starts on time and right away the Chair Sen. Sheran explains that the reason for not having lots of senators is because it is the last day to get bills heard and committee members are in other committees. Then, Sen Eaton explains why this expensive, not based on any science/research and really unfair bill should go through this committee which she is a member of.
Then, the over paid hot shot lobbyist tells us why it should pass and uses the really famous words of “fair share”. Then we hear from an autism mom and autistic person.
Then, Sen Sheran calls me for the opposing side, what – I am the first to speak. I like her already.
Oh, and – Sen Sheran told those that spoke before me when their time was up. This never happened in any other committee – they were mostly given ample time. I really like Sen Sheran now! Treat all of the testifyers equally. OK, so Rep Huntley in HHS Finance also gave us time to finish our testimonies. (He is usually quite, but at least hears your concerns).
I make my statement of there is no controlled trial study that says ABA of unlimited hours for unlimited age – forever. Plus, how this will create two tiered access to autism therapy, one for the haves and one for the have nots. And, if this bill passes as is – no provider will take the MA/Medicaid kid with so many DHS oversight and rules when can they take the unlimited & unchecked private insurance kid. Hence, health disparity for low income MA/Medicaid autism kids who are disproportionately minorities.
Here is the best part, everyone in the committee has so many questions and comments of why mention a specific provider, medically necessary is too broad and too many unqualified professionals prescribing this really expensive therapy which the bill says has no limit of any kind. I love this committee – seriously. There is a God and he is talking through them. They even ask has the MN state legislative autism task force endorse this. OMG – are they for real.
Heck no, because we (MN autism task force) which I am a member of has never ever ever discussed this bill. Sen Eaton or the Queen of this bill Rep. Norton never brought it to us. One of the senators Sen Rosen suggests to the author to have that discussion.
My favorite part was when Jay from Medica said the cost and the concerns and the hot shot lobbyist tried to answer and Sen Sheran so elequontly put him in his place. Really, there is a God!
In sum, there were amendments offered and concerns made especially when paying for the public MA program and to assure equality. It passed with more questions and still crawling which a good sign that state legislatures are having concerns with cost, quality and its unequal access.
It was referred to Sen. Tony Lourey who by the way voted against this same bill with a different number in 2010 when Sen. Berglin was the chair whom I totally miss. How can he possibly be for it now since low income and minority autism families are still being left in the cold. Plus, I think Sen Lourey is one of very few in the senate who is always fair to all of the sides. And, wait for it …. his CA is very much interested in helping the poor get quality health care and there is no drama with his LA. There has to be a God here!
In a nutshell, there would be no way two different kinds of autism coverage legislation would pass through his committee that would say the private wealthier autism family will have unlimited and very expensive coverage. By the same token, the low income and most likely minority autism family will have limited and cheap autism therapy coverage. Plus, his staff – simply lovely!
Now, I have learned in my minute and half of advocating in MN state capitol – to never blink or get too cocky. So, I am cautiously optimistic – but fully awake and watching how all of this plays out. The other good thing is that politically one party is in control of all branches of state government and if disparity and unequal access to autism services pass, they would have to own it and explain it.
I also really really really hope the author of this bill in the senate – Senate Eaton gets asked by her largely African American voters why she keeps leaving their issues out. Shouldn’t an elected officials support their voters issues. Go figure – taking votes for granted again.
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate