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Posted at 3:26 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Conservative group targets Howell for his support of autism bill

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that opposes the federal health care overhaul, began robocalls statewide Monday targeting Bill Howell, the powerful speaker of the House of Delegates, for his support of a bill to provide insurance coverage for children with autism.

The calls to the group's 80,000 Virginia members began Monday afternoon and will run through this week's House vote.

"To rail against the mandates in Obamacare then turn around and support mandates in the state level is nothing short of hypocrisy,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

As we reported earlier, Howell (R) has put his considerable weight behind the bill that would require businesses to provide insurance coverage for children with autism after failing to support similar proposals in past years.

Howell's position, which all but ensures the bill will pass the General Assembly this year, has upset some members of his caucus.

"Obviously autism is a very personal and emotional thing for families to deal with, but not every tragic situation deserves a new government mandate," Marchi said. He said Americans for Prosperity will be educating Virginia voters about how legislators voted on the issue.

Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff, declined to comment. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), said the governor will review the bill if it passes the General Assembly.

Read the full robocall script below:

Hi. This is Ben Marchi with Americans for Prosperity calling to ask you to help stop a liberal healthcare bill that's currently being pushed through the General Assembly.

The bill, HB 2467, would tell private companies what kind of services they must offer.

Normally, we could depend on Republican leaders to kill this bill, but unfortunately,
Speaker Bill Howell has turned his back on conservatives and is siding with big government liberals.

Call Bill Howell at 804 698 1628 and tell him that government should help businesses, not hurt them."

By Anita Kumar  | January 31, 2011; 3:26 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate, William Howell  
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American's for Prosperity target autism patients.

Next target, furry puppies.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Americans for prosperity? How about a group wanting to turn America into a third world country. Is it more important to cut taxes for the wealthy than help children with autism? What kind of country do we want to be? If this was Haiti, it would be more understandable, but this is America. AFP is a bunch of A**H***s

Posted by: kinsman_bob | January 31, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Obviously these Americans for Prosperity do not have autistic members in THEIR families or THEY have enough insurance because THEY are prosperous enough not to need this kind of insurance.
I and many others have members who are autistic - my nephew.

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | February 1, 2011 12:41 AM | Report abuse

One more thing - many other states allow coverage for autism including Texas, Tennessee and Florida. These are just a few. Notice the three are all in the so called South. You would think Virginia would want to be there also.

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | February 1, 2011 12:52 AM | Report abuse

One more thing - I'm glad that the article gave Mr. Howell's phone number because I will be calling him and thanking him for introducing the bill. I also intend to get on the phone and call everyone I know and ask them to call to support this bill.
I suggest you all do the same. Mr. Howell's number is 804-698-1628. Thanks for the information Americans for Prosperity!!!

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | February 1, 2011 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Arguing that Howell shouldn't support an insurance coverage mandate becuase he opposed Obamacare is ludacris. The issue with Obamacare is that the Federal Government is mandating that every citizen must BUY insurance. This is a Federal over reach. They don't have the authority to require this.
The mandate in HB 2467 is that insurance companies must cover a treatment that has been proven to help children with autism. This is done often. Virginia also mandates coverage of mammograms and other important treatments and tests. The states have the authority to do this as part of their regulation of the insurance industry.
Howell's support of HB 10 and other bills like it opposing Obamacare was a vote in favor of state's rights over Federal over reach. Support of HB 2467 is a vote in favor of a treatment that can change children's lives.

Posted by: libertygirl1776 | February 1, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

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