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Border jumpers left out under autism mandate Rhoades says

A measure that was turned back by the GOP-controlled Assembly this past session would require insurance companies to provide coverage for autism.

The measure was supported by Gov. Jim Doyle and state Democrats, along with a host of autism support groups across the state.

"The governor believes that mandating coverage is the best way to provide coverage to families living in Wisconsin," said Jessica Erickson, Doyle's press secretary.

However, Rep. Kitty Rhoades, R-Hudson, said the measure is flawed because it would only help those who get their insurance from in-state providers and would not help those in the border regions.

"You can only put a mandate on a Wisconsin policy. You can't put a mandate on a company that is self-insured or one that isn't in Wisconsin," said Rhoades.

"For instance, 3M employees working in Minnesota, but living in Wisconsin wouldn't be covered," she added.

Rhoades said that the Republican proposal which was killed in the state Senate would help autistic children more.

The Republican proposal would have put $6 million in the budget of the Department of Health and Family Services to cover autism in the Medical Assistance budget.

"I want to make sure the programs we put in place provide access for all of our people," Rhoades said.

Erickson said that Doyle is focused on doing what he can do to help families in Wisconsin to get the care they need for autism and providing insurance coverage.

Ensuring coverage for those Wisconsin families that get their health insurance from their Minnesota employers isn't within the reach of the Wisconsin government, according to Erickson.

"That is something Minnesota would have to do," Erickson said.

She added that when Assembly Republicans didn't pass the insurance mandate bill they failed to stick up for Wisconsin families.

"It showed that the Assembly Republicans were more concerned about sticking up for big insurance companies than Wisconsin families," Erickson said.

Rhoades disagreed and said that the GOP measure is sticking up for all Wisconsin families.

"If you put in this mandates you are going to increase the cost of health care for everyone, and this is not the time to be increasing health care costs," Rhoades said.

Contact Brady Bautch at