Sharron Angle in 2009: People Have to Pay for Autism Mandate

Nevada Senate Candidate in Limelight Again for Controversial Comments

ByABC News
September 24, 2010, 2:15 PM

Sept. 24, 2010— -- Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle is once again taking heat for comments she made last year that people have to unfairly pay for mandates covered under the umbrella of autism.

At a Tea Party rally in August, 2009, Angle derided a bipartisan bill in Nevada that would require some health insurance policies to provide coverage for screening and treatment of autism.

"Take off the mandates for coverage in the state of Nevada and all over the United States," Angle said. "You know what I'm talking about. You're paying for things that you don't even need."

"They just passed the latest one. Everything they want to throw at us is covered under 'autism' so that's a mandate that you have to pay for," she continued. "How about maternity leave? I'm not going to have any more babies but I sure get to pay for it on my insurance. Those are the kinds of things we want to get rid of."

The Nevada bill that Angle was referring to was signed into law in May, 2009. It covers autism and also increases the size of the Board of Psychological Examiners from five to seven members.

Angle's sentiments on maternity coverage though weren't far off from those of some of her fellow Republicans. Under the new federal health care law, all health insurance policies have to cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse and cannot deny care based on pre-existing conditions. Republicans, who argued against these provisions during the health care debates, say the law drives up premiums.

The video of Angle's speech, from a Winnemucca Tea Party Express Rally last year, was circulated by the Nevada State Democratic Party. Criticism of her comments was further fueled by Sen. Harry Reid's campaign, which called the remarks "callous" and "heartless."

Angle's campaign in turn blasted Reid for using the Republican candidate's statements to distract voters from what they call Reid's own failed record.

"Sharron believes that anyone affected with autism deserves the best medical coverage and treatment, and she speaks out against these expensive government mandates which falsely label other symptoms as autism because it creates this huge cottage industry that drives up health insurance cost while diluting the needed coverage for those patients affected by autism," Angle's communications director Jarrod Agen said in an e-mailed statement.

"The real issue continues to be about these costly burdensome government mandates that are forced upon citizens by career politicians like Harry Reid through unwanted legislation like Obamacare," he added. "And nobody is buying Senator Reid's latest despicable attempt of trying to distract voters from his failed record."