I have read the letters from both Barbara Dodge and Gloria Moscatello regarding Delegate Marshall’s role in HB 1588. I am a life long Democrat, but I deeply appreciate his role in introducing the bill as well as the bipartisan support and sponsorship it received, including that of local Delegate Jackson Miller. Regardless of affiliation, Marshall and Miller should be commended for their efforts. Early and complete intervention, dictated by doctors and qualified therapeutic personnel, leads to children who are more able to participate in regular education settings and to eventually lead independent and productive lives as adults.
Ultimately, I believe that it wasn’t partisanship but the undue influence of lobbyists in Richmond that killed both the House and Senate versions of the bill. According to VPAP, Richard Saslaw, the Democratic Majority Leader who gutted the proposed bill, has accepted $12,500 from Anthem in contributions. These kind of large contributions are indicative of the kind of influence possessed by the Richmond health insurance and small business lobbies; they are the two principal culprits in the death of those bills and the continuing hardship families with autistic children face.
Instead of pointing fingers, I think friends and families living with this disability should concentrate their efforts in making autism an issue in this election year. As the mother of an autistic child, I have spoken to both gubernatorial campaigns directly on this issue and find they both are lacking in concrete ideas or platforms on how to address the growing number of children and adults with this diagnosis.
If you wait for health insurance companies to do the right thing, you will wait forever. Mandates are needed to require coverage and treatment of autism.
My governor will have a vision of the future of Virginia that includes my child — his education, his opportunities after school and how he lives as an adult. These are the issues that families face and these are the ones I will be voting on come November.
I encourage other families to contact Creigh Deeds, Bob McDonnell and others running for office in the fall to demand vision and leadership on this issue.
RACHEL KIRKLAND, MANASSAS PARK