Letter: Reform needed to ensure coverage of autism

As the mother of a child with autism, House Bill 187 and Senate Bill 74 excite me. They will require insurers to cover evidence-based autism spectrum disorder (ASD) therapies like applied behavior analysis. Currently, insurers deny payment of this and other therapeutic treatments for ASD.

Rep. Pete Petersen and Sen. Johnny Ellis sponsor these important bills. Chairman of the House Health and Social Services Committee Wes Keller has been stalling HB 187. Alaskans cannot afford this delay.

Treating ASD costs families upwards of $50,000 annually. Taxpayers also pay for ASD through special education, social community support services, and Medicaid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the prevalence of ASD at 1 in 110 children.

Research has shown that 40-45 percent of children who receive intensive early behavioral intervention achieved near normal or normal functioning. That amounts to a cost benefit savings of $1,686,061 to $2,816,535 per child over a lifetime.

Twenty-nine states have already enacted autism insurance reform laws; 13 other states are pursuing similar legislation.  Please encourage Keller to act on HB 187 by calling him at 465-2186.

Stacey Finley



Outside Editorial: A more presidential Donald Trump is unlikely, but necessary

The following editorial first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

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Letter: The Homeless Ordinance

As I understand it, on Monday the assembly will be voting on an ordinance to permit the police to evict people camping in the downtown and make them move to a camping area in the Thane avalanche zone. I think that’s mistaken public policy. I’ve just hand delivered a 5 page letter to the CBJ in opposition. But what’s really needed isn’t my opinion. It’s a newspaper’s reporting of the facts. That said, if someone’s camped out in a doorway, it couldn’t be a more clear cry for help. And underneath that gruff scary homeless person is so often someone suffering the terrible diseases of mental illness and addiction.

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Win Gruening: Homeless Not Helpless

When Mayor Ken Koelsch recently proposed a city ordinance prohibiting camping in downtown Juneau to help resolve on-going issues with our homeless population, there was significant public reaction.

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My Turn: A Good Time for Kindness

Some time ago, the snow was mounded everywhere, deep and wet. As I gazed from my window, contemplating shoveling, I saw a neighbor plowing out the nextdoor driveway and mailbox — and then chug over to our mailbox, and plow it out as well. Such a welcome and unrequested act of thoughtfulness, of kindness: it lifted my spirits!

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