Floor debate – Ballentine gets Autism coverage expanded

When I was a newly elected member, one of my first bills was Ryan’s Law . How did this law come about? From mothers of children with autism, meeting with me and asking for my help. It was that simple. (Note: passage was not easy or simple, but once these ladies shared their story – and particularily when one added “my family won’t benefit from the law; but many other families will” – I was hooked!)

Thanks to Lorri Unumb and her friends Marcella Ridley and Lisa Rollins (forever known as “Autism Angels”), South Carolina became only the SECOND state in the country to help provide insurance coverage for families with autistic children. Since that time, 43 other states passed similar laws – thanks to Lorri’s resilence and experience with the issue! Yes, she literally has traveled the country for Autism Speaks and made this happen.

South Carolina passed Ryan’s Law 10 years ago. With other state joining, with more data, and with the evidence that the cost was considerably less than expected, it was time to be sure every family could benefit. Back in 2007 we had left out a small group – frankly, as a concession in order to keep Ryan’s Law moving. Now was the time to go back and be sure those families were no longer left out.

I could write for days the fight to not only pass Ryan’s Law in 2007 but also to get what the House passed last week. For now, here’s a video showing my remarks as repeated attempts were made by other members to stop the passage.

Special thanks to Shannon Erickson for filing the bill that would ultimately be amended and help this language move to the Senate (where you will see in the video, the Senate has already unanimously approved the language before). There were also many behind the scenes that helped. Too many to name, but they know who they are. I’m forever grateful to each of you and look forward to helping Shannon get passage in the Senate before this two-year session ends.