Assembly seeks expanded coverage for children with congenital disabilities, Annual ‘relief of conscience’ report also sought from Board of Pensions

SAN JOSE — The 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has urged the denomination’s Board of Pensions [] to expand its medical coverage for children with congenital developmental disabilities to include occupational, speech, and physical authority.

The expanded benefits would apply to children with such maladies as Down’s syndrome and autism.

Most health plans, including the Board of Pensions benefits plan, cover “rehabilitative services” for children who have lost function due to accident, illness or injury but not “habilitative” services for children with congenital conditions.

The District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and Indiana have recently passed legislation requiring insurers to provide such services. Microsoft and Home Depot are among a handful of companies that have rewritten their health insurance policies to include habilitative therapies for children with neurological or genetic disabilities such as autism, Down’s syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

The Assembly directed the Board of Pensions to consult with the General Assembly Council’s Office of Social Welfare Organizations — which includes Presbyterians for Disabilities Concerns — throughout its review of the proposal.

The Assembly also asked the Board of Pensions to provide an annual report on its Relief of Conscience Plan, which segregates medical plan dues paid by employing organizations conscientiously opposed to abortion to guarantee that those dues are not spent on abortion procedures.
The annual reports, beginning in 2009, are to include specific details of the Relief Of Conscience (ROC) plan, an explanation of the process for participation in the ROC plan, an accounting of the total number of churches participating in the ROC plan, an accounting of the total dollars paid by the board under the ROC plan and the total dollars paid by the Board of Pensions for adoption programs.