Pertinent Points from "New Ways to Diagnose Autism Earlier":
- New diagnostic methods indicate whether children under 30 months old may be at risk for autism.
- "At-risk" children can begin early behavioral treatment. Pre-school treatment is shown to be more successful in raising IQ and improving language in autistic children than later treatment.
- New methods provide "useful clues" as to whether the child may have autism. The author notes that "there is something about a clinician that adds to the predictive value."
- Early intervention may be expensive, but if successful, may decrease overall spending on treatment of autism.
- "Just eight states have passed bills mandating coverage by private insurers for autism and related disorders." The author notes that 27 other states are working on autism initiatives.
Pertinent Points from "Autism Cures"
- An "Autism spectrum" allows for easy false diagnosis based on a range of autism symptoms.
- Parents that allow children to be diagnosed as autistic can receive funding for desired therapies such as speech therapy. This encourages diagnosis of autism even when the existence of that condition may be questionable.
- False positive diagnosis of early autism makes "curing" the disease easy work and generates false data about cure rates.
- False positive diagnosis diverts money from truly autistic patients that need treatment.
Of course FMP has no problem with parents electing to utilize non-definitive early diagnosis methods and expensive early treatment if they so desire. The problem comes when these elective procedures become the public burden.
For evidence that it is becoming the public burdern, note two excerpts from the Autism Votes website, an activist site dedicated to support bills benefiting autistic patients. These excerpts are two of many such notices.
1)(Baton Rouge, LA - July 2, 2008) Today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 958, the autism insurance reform bill passed last month by the state legislature, into law. The new law will require health insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism disorders in patients under age 17. Benefits are capped at $36,000 per year and $144,000 per lifetime.
2)NEW YORK, NY (July 9, 2008) -- Autism Speaks today commended Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell for signing into law the most comprehensive autism insurance bill in the nation. The new law provides $36,000 a year for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and other necessary treatments, and goes beyond many state insurance reform measures by mandating coverage up to age 21 with no lifetime cap. It also creates, for the first time under Pennsylvania law, an expedited appeals procedure for denied claims as a safeguard to ensure compliance by insurance providers. Private insurers will be required to provide coverage beginning in July 2009.
We can't help but wonder how this mandating of particular coverages on the insurance industry is affecting health insurance premiums. Health insurance isn't a charity program. Every time coverage expands the price of premiums must go up. These diagnostic and treatment procedures certainly have a place. But, should the government mandate non-conclusive, early-diagnostic procedures for autism and similar procedures for other illnesses?
Especially in these financially questionable practices, parents and doctors must be the decision makers- not the government. Efforts by the government to enforce a standard of care on the health insurance industry and on taxpayers can only make health care more expensive and less acessible to Americans.