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Assembly Passes Roberts/Prieto/Voss Bill for Insurance Coverage for Autism-Spectrum Treatments

(TRENTON) – Legislation Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Joan Voss sponsored to require health insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary treatments of autism-spectrum disorders today passed the General Assembly.

The measure (A-2238) passed 71-4 with one abstentions. It stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism.

“Failing to help a child try to overcome the obstacles presented by autism will lead to costlier problems later,” Roberts said. “Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges. Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way. This is just an incredibly good investment.”

“Families living every day with this baffling disorder need the assurance that autism treatments recommended by their doctors will be covered by insurers,” said Prieto (D-Hudson). “Autism already robs a person of so much; treating it shouldn’t also rob a family of their finances.”

The measure was endorsed in committee by Bob Wright, grandparent to an autistic child and co-founder of Autism Speaks. The group was involved in successfully lobbying the United Nations to recognize World Autism Day and Congress to provide more research money.

Assembly to Consider Bills to Require Autism Insurance Coverage, Combat Medical Errors, Restrict School Chief Pay

Will Also Mull Lt. Gov. Campaign Disclosure and Finance Rules

(TRENTON) – The Assembly will meet Thursday to vote on measures to require insurance coverage for autism treatments, combat hospital medical errors, restrict excessive school chief pay and impose campaign rules on lieutenant governor candidates.

Legislation Assemblyman Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-Camden), Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen) sponsored would require insurers to provide coverage for autism treatments.

The measure (A-2238) stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism. New Jersey has the nation’s highest autism rates.

“Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges,” Roberts said. “Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way.”

Legislation (A-1264/3371/3633) Assemblymen Paul Moriarty, Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer), Lou Greenwald and Nilsa Cruz Perez (both D-Camden) sponsored would prohibit hospitals from holding patients and their insurance companies liable for medical bills related to errors and require public hospital-specific reporting.

“Patients rightly expect that their safety and wellbeing will be protected when they visit a hospital,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester).

Greenwald & Lampitt Announce District Office Furlough Dates

Legislative Office Will Operate With Limited Staff Resources

(VOORHEES)—Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (both D-Camden) announced today that their legislative office staff will be furloughed one day each in May and June. The furloughs, which are mandatory for many state departments, are voluntary for state legislative offices.

“These tough economic times require tough choices from state government,” said Greenwald. “As part of the effort to save $35 million in state employee costs, Assemblywoman Lampitt, our legislative staff, and I will take pay cuts by participating in furloughs.”

In an effort to continue service, Greenwald and Lampitt’s legislative office will implement furloughs on a staggered basis on the following dates: May 27-28 and June 9-10, 2009. Constituents seeking assistance should be aware that though the legislative office will make every attempt to avoid a disruption in service, the office will have very limited staff resources on these dates.

“As with any other day, our staff will make their best effort to help any constituent who contacts our office,” said Lampitt. “Because our office will operate with limited personnel on these furlough days, residents should be aware that it may take our office longer than usual to assist them.”

Greenwald and Lampitt’s legislative office is located at 1103 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 142, in Voorhees, and can be contacted via phone at 856-435-1247.

Schaer/ Lampitt/ Coutinho Bill to Teach Kids Financial Responsibility Continues Advancing

Legislation Would Create Pilot Program To Educate High Schoolers

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly members Gary S. Schaer, Pamela R. Lampitt, and Albert Coutinho sponsored to initiate a pilot program to educate high school students on personal finance management so they can avoid irresponsible spending habits that lead to excessive personal debt and bankruptcy was released Thursday by a Senate committee.

“Too many young people have taken an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to their personal finances, setting themselves up for financial hardship before they even get their college degree,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex), a professional financial advisor. “We must do a better job of preparing students to be financially responsible adults.”

A 2005 analysis of credit card debt by student-loan provider Nellie Mae found the average college freshman carried a credit card balance of $1,585. That debt load ballooned to an average of $2,864 for college seniors.

A 2007 follow-up survey of graduate students reported an average outstanding credit card debt of $8,612. Only 20 percent said they pay-off their balance each month. Two-thirds of respondents said they received their first credit card as an undergraduate student, with 93 percent saying would have liked additional financial management information before starting school.

A "Healing" Place in Suburbia

May 12, 2009
By Susan K. Livio

TRENTON -- The Office of the Child Advocate is launching on Wednesday a publicity campaign called "Healing Homes" to make a case that these supervised programs can make good neighbors. Despite decades of anti-discrimination laws, the children living in group homes and the people who operate them suspect most homeowners are uncomfortable sharing the same block, fearing for their property values and safety, said Acting Child Advocate Ronald Chen.

The child advocate will mail a video featuring kids from group homes and their neighbors and an informational booklet to every mayor and legislator in the state, child advocate spokeswoman Nancy Parello said.

"These homes are a critical component of care for many children," Chen said. "Unfortunately, often out of misunderstanding, some people react with fear and suspicion when a healing home first comes to town. We hope the information provided in this campaign expands understanding and support for homes that serve youth in need."

The legal opinions protecting the state's right to open a group home for abused and emotionally disturbed kids are so voluminous they could wallpaper the interior of the nearly 3,000-square-foot Colonial in Bridgewater that 18-year-old Jerrald Pichon calls home.