Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SD-46: Breslin To Face Opposition from Autism Families

Advocates State-wide Say Breslin Bill is Detrimental -- Local Activist to Form Third-Party

With only about a month to go before Sen. Neil Breslin faces Democratic primary opponent Luke Martland, I was expecting an "October-in-August" surprise to come from either camp soon. Earlier this week, I thought that Martland challenging Breslin to a series of debates might be it...

But today, I recieved news from sources unnaffilliated with either campaign: Several autism advocacy groups are not-too-happy about a piece of legislation sponsored by Senator Breslin. While he called the legislation a landmark back in June, today groups like the Foundation for Autism Information and Research are calling on Gov. Paterson to veto the legislation.

They're not stopping there, either. Tomorrow at noon, fifteen total groups affilliated with this cause will be holding a rally in opposition to the Breslin autism bill at locations all over New York, including in front of the Capitol.

The full press release and the final wrinkle in all of this are below the fold.

(Cross-posted on The Albany Project)

Below, the press release from FAIR hammers Breslin almost as badly as the several statements Luke Martland has been making for months:

Autism Advocacy Groups Call on Governor Paterson to Veto Breslin Autism Bill.

Advocates Say Breslin Bill Favors Insurance Companies and Hurts Autism Families.

(August 17, 2010. Albany ) Fifteen New York-based autism advocacy groups and parents of children with autism today called on Governor David Paterson to veto the autism insurance bill sponsored by incumbent State Senator Neil Breslin. A bill that the groups say will deny insurance coverage and treatment for people suffering from autism spectrum disorders.

The bill would shift early intervention reimbursements costs from the insurers back to the counties and taxpayers. "S7000-B is a step backwards, not a step forward, in insurance coverage for Autism,” said Kathy Eiss, president of the Western New York Chapter of the Autism Society of America.”

“Insurance Chairman Neil Breslin’s bill does not provide insurance coverage for people who suffer from autism,” said Michael Smith, chairman and northeast regional director of the Foundation for Autism Information and Research. “Breslin’s bill actually does more harm than good because it discriminates against people who suffer from autism and makes it nearly impossible for them to get treatment prescribed by their doctors.”

News conferences with other autism groups are being held across New York State .

“The first line of S.7000 (Breslin’s bill) mandates that health insurers cover treatment for people with autism. Unfortunately, the remainder of the bill wipes out the mandate and protects health insurers,” said Thomas Abinanti, in a letter to the editor he wrote to the Journal News. Abinanti is a parent, attorney and member of the Westchester Board of Legislators. “The bill is another example of ‘Albany Speak’ – that is, to say you are solving a problem, then make it worse.,” he wrote.

Autism advocates oppose the Breslin bill because it sets a standard for treatment for autism that must be “evidence-based, clinically proven and peer reviewed,” which is not required for any other medical disorder or disease. S7000-B sets a standard that treatment for autism must be "evidenced based, clinically proven and peer reviewed," which is not required for any other medical disorder or disease. “Chemotherapy for certain conditions often does not meet these criteria, especially “clinically proven,” but individuals are not denied coverage of chemotherapy.” said Mary Shuetz, a Board Certified Developmental Pediatrician from East Aurora . “Even the use of antibiotics, which is much more of a
common occurrence, rarely follows these requirements.”

Advocates also say that the Breslin bill will shift early intervention reimbursement costs from the insurance companies back to the counties and taxpayers.

Breslin is the chairman of the State Senate’s insurance committee and has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from insurance companies and lobbyists in
New York and elsewhere.

“If I told you that a legislator who receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance companies sponsored a bill that was co-authored by a powerful lobbying firm that represents insurance companies your eyes would widen,” said Chris Petrisino, parent and vice president of the Nassau-Suffolk Chapter of the Autism Society of America. “But that is what happened. And if this bill passes, our kids get screwed.’

Emphasis added - SP

Strong words from people who know what it means to be strong. This is a completely unexpected new wrinkle to this race and it will be interesting to see how it affects Breslin's bid for re-elction and the efforts of others to unseat him.

Which brings us to our final wrinkle: Autism could remain an angle of attack against Breslin depending on the outcome of the GOP "primary." Bear with me on the quotes there, but today, independently registered Michael Carey filed petitions to to run on a newly created third-party line in the general election. A short excerpt from today's Times Union Local Politics blog:

Carey Says He'll File 6,000 Signatures For REFORM Line

Bethlehem resident Michael Carey said he plans to file 6,000 signatures this afternoon with the Albany County Board of Elections to get on the ballot in the race for the 46th state Senate District.

Carey wanted to run as a Republican only to find out he was registered to vote but not enrolled in any party. Instead, he’s mounting his campaign on the REFORM line, a ballot line he created using independent nominating petitions.

Carey only needed 3,000 signatures — which was still three times as many as the major-party candidates.

If he does indeed file twice that many, it will be heavy lift for anyone trying to get him knocked off the ballot. Invalidating 3,000 signatures is no easy task.

Carey’s most likely opponent would be Republican Bob Domenici.

Seven-term incumbent Democrat Neil Breslin already faces a challenge within his own party from attorney Luke Martland. Whichever Democrat prevails in the primary would likely welcome the competition between Domenici and Carey for votes.

Emphasis added - SP

What's this got to do with autism? Well, Carey's son was named Jonathan, he was autistic, and New York State has Jonathan's Law because he died while under the care of health care aides three years ago. That sort of thing would turn me into a big activist, too, and Carey took that path and gained some local notoriety thanks to it: It was the lead of the story when he declared his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

Now I have to admit it was funny to watch Carey first insist that he'd be a Republican all his life then find out he actually wasn't when he first declared his candidacy against GOP-establishment-backed Domineci. But now the area's best-known autism activist has just formed The 2010 Third Party to challenge the a Senator on the same day his autism bill comes under heavy fire. That's a different story. And quite the surprise...

Stay tuned as this race continues to develop at it's new, improved rate of speed.


Arthur Welser said...

Breslin, with his ties and conflict of interest with the insurance industry, is just the tip of the ice burg. There are an additional 19 NYS Senators continuing to practice law while in office. And then there is Speaker of the Assembly, practicing attorney, Sheldon Silver, who refuses to bring tort reform to the Assembly floor. There are numerous practicing attorneys in the Assembly as well, why didn’t one of these Legal Eagles amend either the Senate or Assembly version of the bill? Well I have my theory! It time these members of the NYS Bar Association decide whether they are going to represent their clients or there constituency or have the voters make that decision in the fall!

Tyler Durden said...

I am sure this issue won't get much coverage in the mainstream media. I just don't get why Neil Breslin continues to get a pass on important issues like this one and others (charter schools). He really screwed the people in the city of Albany with that vote. But what does he care, he lives in Delmar?

I do not get why this community is so enamored with him. He hasn't done much while he has been in office. I know the gay community will scream that he voted for same sex marriage. Good, he did the right thing. Plus, Albany County is a fairly liberal area...not that big of a deal for him to vote for same sex marriage.

I am also dismayed at the amount of vitriol people are spewing on some of the other blogs and on FB about Luke Martland. It is as if this Senate seat is Neil's Breslin's birthright. I am in no way affiliated with Luke Martland's campaign but he has my vote. I am tired of Neil Breslin and the same old same old.

Soundpolitic said...

Actually, Tyler, the next day CBS6NEWS broadcast probably their most damaging report ever on a related subject. Turns out it's not only Autism groups that are angry at Breslin's insurance legislation. Now we come to find out that this wonderful prior approval stuff he was touting actually doesn't cover 75% of us.

Check out the video of the story at this link. Seriously, it makes Senator Breslin look incredibly incompetent. The best answer to the last question he can come up with is "That's a good question."

This year, the press isn't giving him as much of a pass. Indeed, this story really sticks it to him like never before. That's the most hopeful sign of this campaign, and hopefully the increased media scrutiny on the Breslins continues regardless of the outcome of the election.