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Decision Time

by Melissa Brunner

There's nothing quite like tax and budget debates to illustrate the tough decisions lawmakers face in crafting spending and earning decisions.I mean, who doesn't want better roads, pristine schools, great health care for everyone, offices available to serve us without minutes of our homes - and all while paying nearly nothing in taxes?!

Of course, that's how it would work in an ideal world. But, funny, people expect to be paid for goods and services in the real world and not even the state government can escape the bill. Among amendments lawmakers have discussed in their recent debates - a tax credit for adoption expenses (voted down in the House, restored in Senate debate) and funding for public television and Meals on Wheels.

Another issue once again introduced in the legislature comes against the backdrop of a new study showing cases of autism in the U.S. may actually be underdiagnosed. Already, estimates are that 1 in every 88 children has some type of autism-spectrum disorder. A new study suggests that milder cases, especially in older chidren, are being missed. Advocates say it's important because the earlier austism-spectrum disorders are diagnosed, the better intervention that can be offered to help children thrive.

In Kansas, lawmakers are again being asked to consider a measure that would require insurers to cover treatment and diagnosis of autism-spectrum disorders in those aged 19 and under. A pilot program in 2010 included the coverage for children of state employees. An effort to expand it failed late in last year's session. A sticking point in the debate is whether such a requirement would increase insurance costs for everyone.

I found a fact sheet on the issue from the group Austism Speaks (note, it could be considered biased to their position). Take a look at it here: www.austismspeaks.org.

What do you think? What would be your driving factors on the difficult decisions?

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