February 28, 2008
By John GreinerCapitol Bureau
Wayne Rohde and his wife, Robyne, choked back tears as they spoke Tuesday about families coping with autistic children and not being able to get health insurance coverage.
The Rohdes, of Edmond, were among several families with autistic children who went to the state Capitol to talk about fighting for Sen. Jay Paul Gumm's bill to mandate insurance coverage for autism.
Because he lacked the votes for passage, Gumm didn't have the bill, Senate Bill 1537, heard in committee. But he plans to attach amendments on autism to other bills on the Senate floor.
The legislation is called "Nick's law” after the Rohdes' 10-year-old son.
Wayne Rohde's emotions over the issue caused him to pause briefly as he thanked "the children for being our inspiration and being our motivation for getting this done.”
Later, his wife, her voice breaking, talked briefly.
"It's so important to these children to have this law in the state. We have no place else to turn,” she said.
Wayne Rohde said a child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes. He said autism is not covered by health insurance, adding, "Why is there discrimination and why is there exclusion for autism diagnosis?”
Another Edmond parent, Rodney Miller, talked about dealing with his son's autism.
His family is fortunate that it can borrow money and probably will end up $300,000 in debt to get treatment for his son, he said.
"We hear an awful lot in this building about family values. I don't believe you have the right to talk about family values unless you support policies that value families like this,” the Durant Democrat said. "This is why we were sent here.”