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Apr 24, 2006


Autism: Worst Welfare Disaster in History

by Evelyn J. Pringle
April 20, 2006

Science and medical experts say that unless the government forces the
pharmaceutical industry to pay for the damage caused by mercury-laced
vaccines, in the not too distant future, Americans will experience
the worst welfare disaster in the history of this country.

No doubt with that in mind, eight members of Congress are calling for
a new investigation into the link between the autism epidemic and the
mercury-based preservative thimerosal that children received in
vaccines during the 1990s, and that some children received as late as
2003.

After six years of hearings and testimony from medical experts,
scientists, special education teachers, school nurses, and parents of
autistic children, several lawmakers say they are convinced that a
review of the vaccine database will show a causal link between autism
and thimerosal.

Throughout the 1990s, when thimerosal was most heavily used, the
number of children diagnosed with autism reached epidemic
proportions. During this period, the levels of mercury that children
received were 120 times greater than safety standards set for oral
ingestion of mercury in food, according to the lawmakers.

In 1999, public health officials began asking vaccine-makers to
eliminate the preservative from childhood vaccines. But seven years
later, word got out that the preservative is still in the flu vaccine
recently added to the childhood immunization schedule, and parents,
medical experts, and scientists are outraged.

In seeking an independent review, the lawmakers basically told the
Centers for Disease Control to butt out. They maintain that previous
research conducted by the agency is flawed because it "was based on
data collected prior to the removal of thimerosal and failed to
explicitly compare the outcome of children who received
thimerosal-containing vaccines with those who did not."

The group has also criticized the Institute of Medicine for its 2004
public announcement that there is no link between vaccines and
autism, because the conclusion was for the most part based on
European studies, when American children had been injected with 75%
higher levels of mercury than the European children in the studies
were exposed to. In March 2006, the lawmakers sent a letter to the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, asking their
agency to conduct a study of the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink, which
contains records on 7 million children vaccinated since 1990.

"If the federal government is going to have a study whose results
will be broadly accepted, such a study cannot be led by the CDC," the
lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Although the debate over the cause of autism may rage on
indefinitely, the rising costs to society of caring for and educating
the children afflicted with the disorder cannot be ignored.

On January 4, 2005, the Government Accountability Office advised the
Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness Committee on Government
Reform, that the average per pupil cost for educating a child with
autism was estimated to be over $18,000 during the 1999-2000 school
year, the most recent year in which data were available at the time
of the report.

That means that six years ago, the GAO's estimate for educating
autistic children was nearly three times the cost of educating a
normal student. The amount of money needed to educate autistic
children is the highest per pupil cost for children receiving Special
Ed services.

The epidemic does not discriminate. It's happening in every state in
the nation, due to the fact that under the mandatory vaccine
schedule, children in every state received the same mercury-laced
vaccines.

 From December 1998 to December 2002, the autism population in
California's Developmental Services System nearly doubled and the 97%
increase in four years did not include children younger than age
three, persons classified with less common forms of autism, or
persons who are suspected of having autism but are not yet diagnosed.

The total number of autistic students served statewide increased from
10,360 in December 1998 to 20,377 in December 2002.

Over the last six years, the state of Ohio experienced more than a
1,000% increase in students with autism, with 5,406 reported cases
for the 2003-2004 school year, according to the Ohio Legislative
Office Of Education Oversight.

This year, the Pennridge School District in Pennsylvania expects to
only receive about $1 million in federal funding, and only $2.8
million from the state, to cover its $11 million Special Ed budget.
This means about 60% of the total cost will have to be paid by local
taxpayers.

In recent years, the average age of autistic children entering the
school system has shifted to much younger children. Under federal
law, public schools must provide appropriate education for all
children with disabilities, starting at age three, and many autistic
children remain in the system until age 21.

For very young children, the recommendation for early intervention
has created an increased demand for more intensive behavioral therapy
and educational services in general. However, the federal government
only partially reimburses the states for the cost of educating
autistic children, even though early intervention means that the
services required for each child must now be provided for a much
longer period of time. And, on the other hand, as more autistic
children reach late adolescence, the need for out-of-home residential
services is beginning to have a heavy impact on state budgets.

There is also an increase in public health care costs associated with
the growing number of autistic children. For instance, according to
state government records, South Carolina has an estimated 2,000
children under the age of 18 with autism, and the great majority of
these children are eligible for at least some services covered by
Medicaid.

During the fiscal year 2005, according to the Department of Health
and Human Services, South Carolina paid out more than $20 million for
autism care, in large part because most insurance companies do not
cover the high cost of the specific therapies that have been found to
be the most successful in treating children with autism.

A group of South Carolina lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that
would require private insurers to cover services for all autism
patients regardless of age. Industry lobbyist, Larry Marchant says
that if passed, the bill would cause the health insurance premiums
that individuals or families pay to increase 25%, and would average
out to an extra $200 a month for those enrolled in family plans,
according to State.com on March 26, 2006.

In addition, the financial burden that a disorder like autism takes
on families is absolutely devastating. Upon becoming autistic after
receiving vaccines at 16 months, Laura Bono says her son "Jackson's
medical and therapy needs began taking every bit of money we had
saved or ever would have saved."
"The total we have paid for Jackson's medical, nutritional and
private therapy expenses so far," Laura says, "is roughly $685,000
since August 1990."

That amount averages out to well over $50,000 a year.

There is no escaping the fact that the epidemic is having a profound
impact on society; not only on autistic children and their families,
but on our public health care programs and school systems as well.
And, until vaccine-makers are held accountable, taxpayers will
continue to carry the full burden.

----------

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an
investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in
government. She can be reached at: evelyn.pringle@sbcglobal.net.

==============
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Posted: Monday April 24, 2006, 5:44 am
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