Autism Speaks joined with tens of thousands of families and advocates across New York State to express extreme disappointment in Governor David Paterson’s veto of landmark autism insurance reform legislation – passed unanimously by the state legislature – and challenged the cost projections cited by the governor in justifying his decision. The organization immediately began conferring with key legislative allies to determine a course of action, which could include a call for a post-election session of the legislature and an override effort.

“Today is a sad day for tens of thousands of people with autism and their families, the result of a misguided fiscal decision that will actually cost taxpayers untold millions of dollars in the coming years,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “This is a significant setback, but it is far from the end of the battle. We will not stop fighting until every child with autism in New York State has access to the treatments they need and deserve.”

The legislation – co-sponsored in the State Senate by Senators Neil Breslin and Thomas Duane, as well as Charles Fuschillo, Jr., and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Joe Morelle and Speaker Sheldon Silver – received overwhelming bi-partisan support, with unanimous passage in both the State Senate and Assembly.

“We urge the autism community to call Governor Paterson (518-474-8390) and express their disappointment,” said Peter Bell, executive vice president of programs and services for Autism Speaks. “Contact your State Senator and Assemblymember and insist that they see through their commitment to the enactment of this critical legislation and call for an override.” (visit Autism Votes to find your local legislator)

The governor’s veto memo stated that his decision was based purely on fiscal considerations and not the legislation’s merits. The memo, though, cited inaccurate costs projections. Actuarial reports have concluded that the actual costs to the state and local municipalities would be negligible during the first year and no more than $30 million once fully implemented. Moreover, private insurance policyholders would see minor premium increases of less than 0.65% – far less than the inflated figures included in the memo.

Twenty-three states have already enacted legislation to end insurance companies’ discrimination against people with autism. Governor Paterson is only the second governor in the United States to veto such legislation, joining South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who vetoed Ryan’s Law in June, 2007. The S.C. legislature subsequently overrode Sanford’s veto and Ryan’s Law was enacted.

To learn more about Autism Votes, an initiative of Autism Speaks focused on federal and state legislative advocacy, please visit www.autismvotes.org.

  1. William Favaro
    October 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    It is amazing that a Lame Duck, can Veto such an important bill. Hopefully when we have a New Govenor, he will not make the same poor decision. I can not beleive that a person who himself has a “handicap” would vote against this. How is this going to cost the tax payers more money?
    Let’s look at what, he, passes as law. Raises tax on Gasoline, the state is still broke, New York has one of the highest gas taxes in the country. He creates the FAT Tax, on Soda and other items that are quote un quote bad for you, but New York is still broke. He increases the tax on Tobacco products, because he feels that tobacco users have and will cost more to the tax payers for health care, where is the data on this one, and once again new york is still broke!
    Governor Paterson, maybe we should have an Adultery Tax, becasue if there is a Divorce proceeding, the Adulterer, will, not maybe, will, cost the tax payer money for courts police balifs, judges etc.
    As a parent of an autistic child I can only say Shame on you Govenor Patterson. Can’t wait till January!!!

  2. Skillful Squad Seraphs
    October 25, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I was quite disappointed to hear of Governor Patterson’s decision. Last week I attended an Autism Bill of Rights Rally in Staten Island, NY that was truly amazing and uplifting. It gave parents and advocates like myself a sense of hope that there are politicians in our corner such as, Staten Island Borough President, James Molinaro and Senator Roy McDonald. “We need to stand together” and continue to fight for the rights of the ASD population.



  3. G144
    October 28, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I don’t understand how autism organizations are so diametrically opposed to each other on this bill. Other orgs. say that the restrictions on treatments in the bill (scientifically proven, peer reviewed, etc.) will eliminate coverage, which is why the insurance companies lobbied for the bill. Isn’t it at all suspicious that they so strongly support the bill? Why is AutismSpeaksvon this side of the bill?

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