When President Obama and Democrats pass a law forcing insurance companies to cover individuals and procedures that they don't consider profitable, Republicans cry bloody constitutional and economic murder. When Republicans pass a law forcing insurance companies to cover individuals and procedures that they don't consider profitable, it's a great day in South Dakota.
Republican blogger Pat Powers rejoices over the South Dakota House's approval of House Bill 1257, a bill to require health plans to cover "screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder." "It's been a long time in coming," says Powers, who is the parent of a child with autism. Powers says HB 1257 is pro-family and pro-taxpayer, since it transfers $3.2 million in average lifetime costs of caring for each autistic child from society's shoulders to insurance companies (which get their money from policyholders, who are members of society...).
The wicked Affordable Care Act forced insurers to stop excluding children with autism and to cover autism screenings. But it left states the authority to define the "essential benefits" that insurers must cover. HB 1257 avoids calling applied behavior analysis, the main autism therapy under discussion, an "essential benefit," thus sparing the state from having to pick up any costs.
An insurance lobbyist noted that Medicare and Medicaid don't cover applied behavior analysis. HB 1257 goes farther than the wicked federal government in controlling the health care marketplace.
But no matter. When we strip away abstract, arcane arguments about political philosophy, when we put real faces, real children, real families, and real medical needs on the front page, the health care debate becomes very different. Ask a parent with an autistic child if laws to help that child get medical help without bankrupting the family is a good idea, and that parent suddenly becomes a big-government liberal... which is fine with me.