Consumer watchdog tackles autism coverage denials

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Consumer Watchdog has called on the Californian HMO regulator to disclose information related to insurance companies' denial of autism treatment coverageConsumer Watchdog has called on the Californian HMO regulator to make public its communications with insurance companies relating to cases of coverage denials for autism treatment.

Citing the Public Records Act, the organization wants the California Department of Managed Health Care to disclose the information. It claims that many insurers refuse to pay for autism treatment, known as applied behavioral analysis, even though such coverage is required by law.

"Children who need treatment for autism can’t afford to wait while insurance companies refuse coverage," says Jerry Flanagan of Consumer Watchdog, adding that it is the regulators’ responsibility to help families get the care they need, rather than "helping the insurance companies think up new excuses for denying coverage."

Flanagan also stated, "Access to information concerning the public’s business is an essential check against the exercise of official government power to benefit political supporters."

Consumer Watchdog is concerned that the officials have been influenced by insurance companies seeking to avoid paying for autism treatment.

According to the group, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed the current director of the Department of Managed Health Care, has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from health insurance companies and HMOs.
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