New ad emphasizes Tillis' work on autism despite bill's failure
A new ad by Carolina Rising features parents who praise state House Speaker Thom Tillis' work on autism in the General Assembly. Tillis backed a bill that cleared the House but never got out of the Senate.Posted — Updated
Tillis, a Republican, is running against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democratic incumbent.
In the ad, a young couple talks about having a son with autism and the struggle they encountered when insurance companies would not cover a specific kind of therapy for their child.
"Thom Tillis understood those challenges and was a huge advocate for us," says Kyle Robinson, the father in the ad. Robinson is director of basketball operations at ECU.
One thing that's not mentioned amid the images of a cute and happy child, soaring music and b-roll cribbed from Tillis' campaign website: The bill in question never passed.
Early on, Tillis made autism coverage a signature issue in his U.S. Senate campaign, wearing an Autism Speaks pin in some of his early campaign ads. In particular, he pushed a measure that would require insurance companies to cover certain behavioral therapies.
Senators said they feared that adding new coverage mandates would raise the cost of insurance for everyone.
Politically, the measure became a bargaining chip. It is not uncommon for leaders of either the state House or the state Senate to take a signature bill associated with top leaders of the other chamber "hostage" in order to win last-minute concessions. In this case, Tillis and other House leaders never had something senators wanted in exchange for the autism bill, so it simply withered on the legislative vine.
Carolina Rising describes its mission as spreading a positive message about Republican efforts in the state, and he sees the autism bill as a good news story despite its ultimate failure.
"It's worth reminding people what Speaker Tillis was fighting for," he said.
Woodhouse said he believed lawmakers would return to session after the election and take up the autism bill then. Neither Gov. Pat McCrory nor top legislative leaders have said lawmakers would be returning before the end of the year.
"Samuel is sweet, bubbly. I never would have thought that he would be where he is right now," says the mother, Bobbie Robinson, in the commercial.
While parents certainly have every right to brag on their children, it's unclear what Tillis might have done legislatively to help this particular family.
The Carolina Rising ad urges viewers to call and thank Tillis for his work on the issue.
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