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A panel of the California Court of Appeal today took up the long standing dispute about insurance companies’ obligations to cover a critical treatment for autistic children. At stake is whether the autistic children of many firefighters, cops and state employees will get the appropriate care when they need it. The case, brought by the non-profit Consumer Watchdog, will also determine if families previously forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for autism treatment should be reimbursed by their insurance companies.

A letter from public employees unions, including the California Profession Firefighters, to Governor Brown, explained why the court should care. The questioning of the three judge panel today got to the heart of the issues and they seemed sympathetic to the plight of families who are not able to access autism spectrum disorder treatment known as A.B.A. -- applied behaviorial analysis -- because of onorous Brown Administration rules that allow insurance companies to limit the families' access to the treatment.

The case, Consumer Watchdog et al v. Department of Managed Health Care et al (2d Civ. No. B232338), was heard by a panel of three judges in Division 3 of the California Court of Appeal’s Second District, which includes Justices Klein, Croskey, Kitching and Aldrich. The Los Angeles law firm of Strumwasser and Woocher, LLP serves as co-counsel with Consumer Watchdog attorneys on the case. A decision is due within 90 days and expected soon.