Male ego? Pride? One-upmanship? When confronted with the snail-pace of the state legislature in regards to the much needed Autism Insurance bill, or SB1900, one can’t help to be disheartened.
Especially, since the primary culprit in the delay is not the problems with the bill itself, but an insistence to have the last word by our state representatives. According to a June 10 Chicago Sun-Times article, the reason the bill has not left the floor of the House stems from “a profound dispute between Gov. Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan.” Both are Democrats. But it seems the two men are standing in the way of bill’s passage because Madigan wants Blagojevich to adhere to the strict guidelines of legislative bureaucracy. As a result, the speaker has amended the bill, prohibiting it from moving until these guidelines are adhered to. Meanwhile, the governor and Senate President Emil Jones refuse to budge, perhaps out of pride, and nothing much is happening with this bill.
The Autism bill is designed to assure that family health insurance plans provide treatment for those diagnosed with the disorder. It would allow families to obtain speech therapy, medications and assorted treatments for their loved one with the disorder under a family health care package. Being one with a younger brother who is autistic, I’ve seen first hand how expensive medical treatment and counseling can be. My brother, Courtney, who is now 13, exhibits the hallmarks of the disorder. He insistently repeats certain behaviors-for him, it is clapping. He has a fundamental inflexibility to change. This includes the type of foods he likes to eat. Courtney also has difficulty with verbal communication-his comprehension is good but underdeveloped, and he speaks with a strong lisp. And he also displays an unpredictable public demeanor.
While my mother has insurance to address his needs, rates for coverage can be steep, and some of his prescribed medications are not covered. Passing the Autism Insurance Bill would go a long way toward lightening the financial load on her and other Illinoisans still reeling over $4.25-a-gallon for unleaded gasoline. It would also show that we, the richest country on earth, care about the difficulties of paying for health care. Even those who have insurance still are paying deductibles and “bill balances” that essentially punish them for having a child with a handicap. To its credit, the House is aware of this problem. Many support the legislation and the governor has agreed to sign it. However, with Madigan and Blagojevich at war, their jobs-which I believe involve representing the interest of the people of Illinois-are taking a backseat to political in-fighting. My advice: The speaker should speak less and the governor should govern more. The Autism bill would help an estimated 10,000 people in this state, according to the Autism Speaks web site. We don’t need to let slip through the cracks an important piece of legislation because of personal and political squabbles.