Advocacy Alert

February 17, 2010
Linda Walder Fiddle presented testimony to the NJ Assembly Budget Committee on Governor Christie's proposed budget cuts.
Here is an excerpt from the testimony:

"It is my opinion that a compromise should be initiated whereby the amount, determined by Commissioner Velez (NJ Commissioner of the Department of Human Services) with the oversight of the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force, would be allocated to initiate and fund the OAS to fulfill the promise that was made to the New Jersey autism community. *The task force report coherently and comprehensively outlines the need for the OAS and is available on-line from the Department of Human Services website and our home page at http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org

 

I would then offer, that the monies remaining after funding the OAS, that have been unspent by the Council in 2009, should be allocated to help close the budget gap. I continue to support the allocation of the $1 motor vehicle violation surcharge as ongoing funding for the Council and its mission going forward and would recommend that the amount to fund the OAS should be taken from this funding on an ongoing basis."


January 15, 2010
Linda Walder Fiddle attends bill signing of important autism legislation in New Jersey. 
View the event by clicking on the below link :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWnbwdTds4Y

 


January 14, 2010
The New Jersey State Department of Banking and Insurance Issues Guidelines for Insurance Coverage of Autism Related Treatments
DJF summary:
On January 14, the State Department of Banking and Insurance issued a bulletin regarding the autism insurance law. This bulletin provides guidance to insurance carriers on how to implement this law beginning on February 9, 2010 (Regulations will follow at a later date).
Here are the main points:
1) Coverage for expenses incurred in screening and diagnosing autism or another developmental disability;
2) Coverage for expenses incurred for medically necessary behavioral interventions (ABA) for the treatment of autism in individuals under 21 years old, and that the $36,000 cap may not be applicable;
      ( Benefits for ABA services provided or supervised by BACB certificants BCBA and BCBA-D)
3) Coverage for expenses incurred for medically necessary physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy services for the treatment of autism or another developmental disability;
      (Carriers must provide the coverage without consideration of whether the services are “restorative”);
4) Autism is defined as autism spectrum disorders;
5) Benefits for the coverage of the “Family Cost Share” expense incurred for certain services obtained through the NJ Early Intervention System.

These guidelines will likely have a substantial impact on availability of reimbursement for providers and most importantly, children’s access to ABA and other necessary therapies.


December 24, 2009
As reported by the Autism Society of America, health insurance reform would affect individuals with Autism as follows:
"AUTISM – Requiring insurance plans to provide behavioral health treatments. Plans in the exchange must cover behavioral health treatments as part of the minimum benefits standard. For example, applied behavior analysis is a behavioral health treatment for people with autism. Unless behavioral health treatment is explicitly spelled out as a covered benefit, people with autism are not likely to receive comprehensive healthcare." Please show your support by contacting your Congressional Representatives (see links below).

Read news analysis of historic health insurance reform

December 1st, 2009

Senator Robert Menendez from the home state of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (NJ) is a sponsor of this important legislation! Please show your support by contacting your Congressional Representatives (see links below).

Read about and Support the ABLE ACT OF 2009!



Three important websites to stay aware and in touch with our government about Autism:

www.whitehouse.gov
www.senate.gov
www.house.gov


TESTIMONY
Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee
Bill A 4225

Linda Walder Fiddle, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation
Member of the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good morning distinguished legislators.  I am here this morning as the appointee of Speaker Joseph Roberts to the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force, and the Founder and Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a 501(c) (3), national autism organization with the mission to develop, advocate for and support programs and services for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) through grant awards.

I am proud to let you know that our organization and I are being recognized in the December issue of REDBOOK magazine as one of five recipients in the United States of their Strength and Spirit Award for our efforts on behalf of teens and adults with ASD here in New Jersey and throughout the United States. Surely those who read this article from across the country will note that I cited our Governor and the work of the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force for their recognition of the need to address the issues that currently impact adults on the spectrum and will certainly continue to impact even more individuals as they age to adulthood.

Speaker Roberts has been, in my view, a rare and extraordinary leader in advocating for and accomplishing governmental support for the 1 in 90 individuals affected by ASD in our State.  His leadership will truly be missed but I am hopeful that his example will continue to inspire each of you to create the legislative measures that will offer practical and implementable steps towards community support and integration of adults on the spectrum.

Bill A 4225 sponsored and proposed by Speaker Roberts calls for the inclusion of adults with ASD in the Autism Registry.  Adults, as you know would be able to self-register or a health care provider.  It is also important that the privacy rights of registrants are secured.

Amend the Autism Registry legislation to include registering adults with ASD on an opt-in basis. A total of $500,000 has been provided to the state Department of Health and Senior Services for an Autism Registry, for the reporting of diagnoses of autism. These funds will enhance the knowledge and understanding of ASD: both to plan better and provide for services to children and adults with ASD, and to analyze contributing factors to the cause of the increase in ASD. Adults with ASD can register themselves, or can be registered by health care and service providers. (Quoting Report of the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force).

It is my view that we must have more concrete information about the numbers of adults who are currently not registered with our State because they did know they could register, did not have a diagnosis until recently, or did not feel that their privacy rights would be secure if they chose to register.  We must know these numbers so that we can provide services to adults and project the costs for doing so.  The inclusion of the adults in the registry will give us a clearer picture and enable us to better serve this population.  In addition, and importantly, it is our goal to remove the stigma of ASD by providing a secure way for adults to claim the diagnosis without being penalized or belittled because of it.  Rather, they can proudly include themselves as a person facing this challenge and thereby enhance to level of services and supports that will create more opportunities for them to participate in and contribute to community life.

Although I will not be officially testifying on behalf of Bill 4226 that calls for the “Law Against Discrimination” to be amended to include persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities, I fully support the enactment of this legislation.