In response to dedicated efforts by several Portland families, I worked with Commissoner Saltzman so that the the City Council recently approved expanded healthcare coverage for City employees and their dependents. This coverage increases the availability of medical treatment for autism spectrum disorders, and includes associated behavior assessment, as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Prior to the vote, coverage was much more limited. Click here to read an Oregonian editorial about this decision, and here for The Lund Report's summary. To learn more about autism and the need for this type of coverage, visit AutismSpeaks.org. From The Lund Report's coverage:
"Parents of autistic children -- Tobi Rates, executive director of the Autism Society of Oregon, Shane Jackson, its lobbyist, and Tatiana Terdal and Anastasia Puha – attended the May 30 council meeting. “I’m so excited for all the families this is going to help,” said Puha, whose husband works as a crew leader for the city’s maintenance bureau. The City of Portland is the first public employer in Oregon to offer coverage for autism treatments, according to Terdal. Large private companies such as Hillsboro-based Intel already do. “This is a big question of equity,” she said."
Many thanks to City of Portland family member Anastasia Puha, and community expert Paul Terdal and his wife Tatiana, for educating Commissioner Saltzman and me on this important issue. And to Bureau of Human Resources Benefits Manager Cathy Bless, and the Citywide Labor Management Benefits Committee, for seeing the need and working with Commissioner Saltzman and me to act promptly to address it. Next step: getting this issue on the City's priority list for the State Legislature to address statewide in January.