With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many people are discovering some unforeseen consequences. One major impact for parents of children with developmental disabilities is the realization the Minnesota's high risk insurance pool, MCHA, is going away.
In 1977, Minnesota passed legislation creating a high risk insurance pool to help people who could not find health insurance in the private market. This could be due to having a pre-existing condition such as cancer or diabetes. Fortunately for many people with developmental disabilities, it also covered many types of behavioral therapy that most employer plans would not cover. This would allow parents who have a child with a disability such as autism to enroll in MCHA and get medically recommended therapy for their child that was not covered by their employer plan.
I myself utilized this program for my son when he was 4 years old to get extremely helpful therapy for his development. Now, with the creation of MNsure, MCHA is being phased out and set to be totally eliminated to current enrollees by the end of 2014.
Minnesota has made strides in health insurance reform in the past years including passing an autism law last year. Unfortunately, these laws usually start by only applying to large employer provided plans. Currently, MNsure plans do not provide coverage for behavioral therapy that is critical for many of the developmentally disabled.
According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, MNsure plans are to mandate this coverage in 2016. Parents and advocates are asking why MCHA would be phased out and MNsure plans would not be offering behavioral treatments and thus creating a one year gap in coverage. This will create quite a problem for the many families who will have their children's therapy options taken away for the year 2015. Pressure will be mounting this summer at the Capitol to address this issue just as it was two years ago when the process to eliminate MCHA was begun.