I’ve decided to add a new feature to the blog: Toasts and Tributes.
Every few weeks (or as often as I can manage) I’ll toast one or more people who have demonstrated the courage to “do the right thing” even when it is not always popular.
This week’s recipients of this honour go to:
1) Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Despite leading to possible increases in health insurance premiums, last week Nixon signed a bill requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of therapy – up to $40,000 per year to the age of 18 – for autistic children. This should be sufficient to cover the cost of 20 hours of ABA therapy per week for a child, often considered the minimum amount necessary to achieve meaningful results.
Jay, not only are you doing the right thing from an ethical point of view, essentially giving autistic children a chance at a meaningful life, but you are also doing the right thing from a financial point of view as well. Studies (e.g., here) indicate that the total cost to society per autistic person due to lost productivity and the need for specialized services can be anywhere from $3-4 million over a lifetime. Early intervention can reduce that cost considerably. It has been shown that ABA therapy alone can reduce the cost by almost half (Jacobsen et al, 1998; Jarbrink and Knapp, 2000). Continue reading