Tag: New England INDEX

Autism-Got insurance?

Gov Patrick signing Autism Insurance bill


Twelve years ago our daughter was diagnosed with autism. At the time, the doctor explained to us that autism was a neurological condition, and there was effective treatment that could help her. We had good health insurance and we’d always paid our premiums, so we assumed that insurance would pay for the prescribed treatment.

Because when your child has a serious medical condition which can be effectively treated, that is what they do, right? That is the whole purpose of insurance, no? If she had cancer, insurance would cover chemotherapy. If she had a brain tumor, insurance would cover the surgery.

But our daughter had autism. And we were about to discover what so many autism parents already knew – that having even the most comprehensive insurance plan meant nothing in the face of autism.

got insurance? not if you have autism!

It wasn’t right. It had to change. And though my knowledge of the system consisted of an insurance card, a sick child, and no coverage for her treatment, I decided to do something about it.

As Chair of the Insurance Committee of Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM), I organized a grassroots effort to pass legislation requiring health insurance to cover autism treatments. Over several years, our small group of parents, armed with no more than an idea and a passionate determination, slowly made our way… from a legislator’s office in the basement of the State House to Fenway Park, we had the honor of watching Governor Patrick sign our bill into law in front of hundreds of people.

got insurance? now what?

We celebrated the victory. We had a new law. It was one of the strongest in the country. But even as the ink dried, we knew there was still work to be done. Because autism treatment had not historically been covered by insurance, the entire community –from families to professionals- all had questions about how the new law would work.

Recognizing this tremendous need for information and support, UMass Medical School established the Autism Insurance Resource Center at New England INDEX last year. I am honored to direct the Center, and proud of the work that we do in educating the community about autism insurance laws and in helping people with autism obtain coverage.

I wish I could say that our work is done; unfortunately true systemic change is slow. But we’ve proven that a small group of parents –armed with no more than an idea and a passion to do what is right – can make it happen.

Next week we will discuss how the law is working and how the Center is helping the Autism Community access coverage under the law.

 got insurance? yes we do!


About the author

Amy Weinstock is the Director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center at New England INDEX.  She served as Chair of the Insurance Committee of Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) and led the grassroots effortAmy Weinstock speaking at signing of the Autism Insurance bill to pass Massachusetts’ Autism Insurance Law.

5 Reasons Why We Need Another Disability Blog

As budget cuts wreak havoc on services for people with disabilities, we have a choice.

We can continue to advocate for more funding.  Another option is to really listen to one another and learn what supports do exist.

At New England INDEX we choose the second option. As a  respected leader in providing information and resources to the disability community,  we are now offering a venue for people to give  suggestions and share their personal experiences in regards to the resources we write about.

Thus our blog begins.

And our Blog Coordinator is…

My name is Sue Crossley and I am the Blog Coordinator, which basically means I will either be writing the blogs or editing those written by others.

I have over 30 years of experience working for people with disabilities and their families during which time I learned a few important lessons.

  1. A person with a disability is very capable of choosing their own dream.
  2. To reach that dream in life, whether you have a disability or not, you need support to be successful.
  3. The people who support you may be your family or paid staff from an organization that only serves people with disabilities.

But they also must include people from your community who realize that you have something to offer

I have seen many people with disabilities reach their dreams, including home ownership, because people in their communities supported them.

As Blog Coordinator, I want to find the people and programs in your community who want to help others reach their dreams.

A Blog like no other

Five hands coming together like spokes of a wheel

Our blog will be unique for five reasons.
1. A different topic will be presented each month based on what you have been researching on our website.
2. Your stories will be shared so that we can learn what resources have truly made a difference in supporting people with disabilities in the community
3. Exemplary programs will be highlighted each month, programs that may not just serve people with disabilities, but rather the community at large
4. Guest bloggers will be introduced frequently to share diverse opinions and experience
5. Most important, this blog will provide an opportunity for you to become empowered by learning what is working in your community.

Know your community despite cuts

We all stand together at a crossroads as budget cuts are impacting the life of everyone in our state. At the INDEX we believe that our communities still provide a wealth of resources regardless of funding and we need to learn more about these resources together.

Our blog begins next week with the topic of holiday assistance.

We look forward to hearing from you.