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 Iowa Legislature - Action Needed! Minimize

Dear Friends touched by those on the Autism Spectrum,

My name is Cathy Young and I'm the grandmother of an 8-year-old boy who has Asperger's Syndrome.  I also serve on the newly created Iowa Autism Council.  We are strongly advocting the passage of a bill now in the Iowa Senate (SF #1) and one in the House (HF#1) that's been pulled and blended with a mental health parity bill.  We want to urge our representatives to bring HF 1 back to the floor of the House because it's inclusion in the mental health bill would now allow any form of behavior therapy.

We need your help in getting this passed.  Our family lives in Waterloo and I'm the only Iowa Autism Council member from Northeast Iowa -- or northern Iowa east of I 35.  I'm the only family member from ALL of eastern Iowa.

Please help us!  If you have questions, please e-mail me at cathyyoung4@gmail.  I'll try to provide weekly updates on the status of the legislation.  Thank you.


1.  E-mail your area legislators and let them know that you support the autism insurance   bill

In the Senate, this bill is SF1 and will be discussed in the Commerce Committee this coming Thursday.  Passage of SF 1 would mean increased access to critical autism therapies and treatments for thousands of children in Iowa.  

In the House, the bill has been added to the Mental Health Parity bill.  That bill wouldn't allow behavior therapy, most importantly ABA services.  Please encourage your representatives to help get HF 1 out of that bill so it once again stands alone. 


2.  Forward this e-mail to others.    We need everyone's help.  If you know other people in Iowa who would get involved on behalf of your child, forward them this email and ask them to e-mail or contact their legislators.  Send the e-mail to extended family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.  Send to coworkers, neighbors, therapists, teachers and friends!  We need all hands on deck!


Here's an outline to get you started.  It's critical that you don't copy this – please add your own stories and give instances where your child has been denied insurance coverage for critical services.


My name is ____________ and I'm the __________of an __-year-old ___(son/daughter/grandchild, niece, nephew)  who has ___________, one of five categories listed on the Autism Spectrum.  Autism is a devastating disorder that affects at least 1 of every 150 children.  


The cost, both financially and emotionally, of disorders on the Autism Spectrum is overwhelming.  Studies have shown that early intervention can help children improve their social and cognitive development, yet most private insurance policies specifically exclude coverage.  Without intervention and treatment in childhood, young people on the Autism Spectrum require millions of dollars in state and federal aid in special education, residential, Medicaid, and voc rehab services.


Senate File #1, which will be discussed in a Commerce Committee hearing this Thursday, February 12, at 2 p.m., would require private insurance coverage for autism treatment in children that's deemed medically necessary by a licensed physician or physician's assistant.  Such coverage would apply only to those covered through a company that has 50 or more employees.


House File #1, which is currently dormant in the House, has been combined with the mental health parity legislation.   Tragically, this legislative action would prohibit Applied Behavior Analysis, the therapy that study after study confirms is the most effective in treating autism and Autism Spectrum disorders.


As ______'s ____(mother, father, etc) and a concerned citizen of ______(community, legislative district, etc), I urge you to support SF #1 and join the growing movement in the House to bring HF #1 back in its original form.


Thank you.


Facts to include if you'd like: 

  • The coverage of autism treatment in Iowa will enable many children to access services they need.
  • The maximum likely cost of such coverage is approximately .46% or $1.83 per policyholder per month.
  • With treatment, Iowa can save approximately $208,500 per capita in avoided special education costs during the school years alone and $1.08 million per capita during the autistic person's lifespan.
  • The incremental societal cost of not treating autism has been estimated by Machael Ganz, a Harvard economist, to be approximately $3.2 million per capita.
  • There are currently eight states that have passed similar bills across the country, including five states during last year's legislative season: Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Illinois.  This is a hot topic in states nationwide and Iowa should be proud to be a part of such an important movement!  This year, 41 out of 50 states have either passed or are considering this important insurance coverage for the growing number of children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.


 Annoucements and Updates Minimize
Health Insurance Coverage for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders - Sunday, February 08, 2009

There will be a hearing for SF1 Bill (state mandated insurance coverage for autism) next Thursday (2/12) at 2 pm room 22 at the Capitol.


Representatives from the opposition will be present as well as supporters. Members of the public will not be able to speak, however, we need to pack the room to show support. Please come if you can. If you can not attend, please email your support to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee or consider attending a local forum this weekend near your community.


Thank You,

Danielle Sharpe


To find out if your Senator is holding a forum follow this link:


Find a Legislative Forum in Your Area!

Health Insurance Coverage for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders - Sunday, February 08, 2009

Immediate Action Needed!

The Iowa House of Representatives is getting ready to debate whether insurance plans should have to pay for the treatment of mental illness and substance abuse in the same way they do for other illnesses.  In other words, House File 139 would guarantee mental illness is treated equally.

Legislators are getting flooded with calls from businesses and insurance companies opposed to the bill - but are simply not hearing from those who would benefit from coverage and advocates who support the bill. 
We need your help - or the bill will not be debated this year.

If you want all illnesses, whether physical or mental, to be treated the same, contact your State Representative before Wednesday, February 11. 

1. Call or Email your State Representative and tell them you support House File 139.  Talking points from the Parity Coalition are attached if you need help - but your story and why this is important to you is what legislators want to hear!

           To Call:      515-281-3221            To Email:

2. Attend one of the local forums this weekend and voice your support. 
This weekend's forums are listed on the last page, and are available online at:

3. If you have time, let us know what your State Representative says to you.  The coalition working on this will want to follow-up with your legislator at the Capitol.  Contact us at: or 866-432-2846.

At this time, you only need to call your State Representative.  Forward this email to as many people that you know and ask them to email or call their legislators in support of HF 139!