Legislature Sends Autism Mandate to Governor
March 30, 2012
On the last day before the Legislature was scheduled to adjourn for spring break, the House and Senate voted to send the controversial Autism Insurance Mandate legislation to the Governor. Governor Snyder is expected to sign the legislation on April 2nd.
SB 414 and SB 415 passed the House 91-19, and SB 981 passed 84-26. Immediate effect was ordered for all three. The no votes on SB 0981, which connects a $15 million dollar appropriation geared to help curb the costs of the mandate, were split between 21 Republicans and five Democrats.
The bills mandate coverage for autism in all insurance plans. SBAM is generally supportive of measures that helps lower costs of care and allows increased access to treatment options for all health matters, including autism. However, SBAM has long opposed any and all attempts to accomplish this through mandated benefits, as it foists the financial burden exclusively on small businesses and individuals through increased co-premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
SBAM applauds those who opposed the insurance mandate outlined SB 414 and SB 415. Of the 19 voting against the measure in the House, all no votes came from Republicans. SBAM members are encouraged to contact the following House members to thank them for standing with small businesses struggling to afford health insurance for their employees: Dave Agema (R-Grandville), Jeff Farrinton (R-Utica), Ray Franz (R-Onekama), Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck), Ken Goike (R-Ray), Joe Haveman (R-Holland), Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine), Joel Johnson (R-Clare), Andrea LaFontaine (R-Richmond), Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township), Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham), Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt), Earl Poleski (R-Jackson), Amanda Price (R-Holland), and Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).
As part of the debate, mental health advocates argued that the bill should be amended to include full mental health parity by mandating coverage for all neuropsychiatric disorders. Amending it in that manner would have meant crushing cost increases in insurance premiums for small business owners. Fortunately, those attempts were thwarted.
Recognizing the tremendous impact the mandate would have on premiums, legislative leaders and the governor’s office included a structure whereby reimbursements could be made from the state for any autism-related claims and added a $50,000 cap on individual claims. However, the appropriation that would reimburse claims is still in flux, as state leaders are still debating next year’s budget priorities.
SBAM will continue to oppose any and all health insurance mandates due to the direct negative impact they have on a small business owner’s ability to provide his/her employees healthcare benefits.