HB 79, introduced by Rep. Sara Lampe (D-Springfield), also addresses this issue. The bill summaries suggest that the two pieces of legislation are similar: both require insurance companies to cover costs of care related to autism spectrum disorders.
HB 79 was pre-filed on December 1 of 2008. I reserve the right to correct myself, but I believe that’s about as early as one could have pre-filed legislation for this legsilative session. As indicated by the bill number, Grisamore’s was filed later. However, Grisamor has a handful of bi-partisan co-sponsors and his bill appears to be the one gaining traction. Lampe has only one co-sponsor, Charlie Norr, a fellow Democrat. There are a couple possibilites here:
1. The bills are similar but for whatever reason, key committee members and lawmakers at large simply feel Grisamore’s is a better bill.
2. As a member of the majority party, Grisamore’s bill is more likely to attract majority support, and he is more likely to be handed a political victory by House leadership and the majority than Lampe, a Democrat.
I’d put my money on option number 2, but it could be a little bit of both: Grisamore’s could be more finely tuned. I also haven’t read both full bill texts yet so I don’t know what the specific differences are.
On the isue of DESE and school districts providing quality support to children with autism, I certainly understand the frustration.From people close to me I’ve heard a lot of stories about the frustrations these families face in trying to get the best care for their child.
I don’t know what legislative efforts are in play this session, but I would direct you to Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst‘s (R-Manchester) legislation last year that offered special needs scholarships for these kids to receive services from a provider the parents felt best served the child’s needs. The bill was dubbed Bryce’s Law, after Dwight’s grandson, who had autism and died from health related complications. Dwight’s grandson meant the world to him. I saw his eyes would light up whenever he would talk about Bryce and the time they would spend together every week.
It is a tragedy that this bill was defeated by public school groups working to protect the status quo, and fearful of any possible reform that might put the needs of students ahead of their own. I’m having problems with the House website at the moment – it looks to have been revamped, maybe they’re still working some of the kinks out – but it will be interesting to see if Dwight re-files that bill this year. If so, maybe Dwight will guest post on Principally Political to talk about the legislation.
Thanks for joining the conversation, Sherri, and I hope this helps answer a few of your quetions.