Monday, March 10, 2008

Nick's Law Passes the Oklahoma Senate

Editors Note. Nick's Law passed the Oklahoma Senate as an amendment on SB 2157, SB 1895, and SB 2119.
To download the press release, click here.


Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties

March 10, 2008

Contact: Senator Jay Paul Gumm

State Capitol: (405) 521-5586

Durant: (580) 924-2221

Mobile: (580) 920-6990


Mandated Autism Coverage Passes Senate; Gumm Says Coverage Responsible to Oklahoma Families

OKLAHOMA CITY – An amendment that would require health insurance policies to cover diagnosis, treatment and therapy for autism disorders passed the Oklahoma Senate on a bipartisan vote today.

The plan, called “Nick’s Law,” will give Oklahoma families a better opportunity to fight a disability affecting more children than ever. Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, the amendment’s author, attached his plan to a pair of bills that were subsequently approved and sent to the House of Representatives.

Gumm said empowering parents and holding powerful insurance companies accountable to their policyholders is the right thing to do. He said the proposal is fiscally responsible to taxpayers and morally responsible to children in Oklahoma.

“The fact that many Democrats and Republicans joined hands in passing Nick’s Law shows that this is an issue that transcends parties and politics.” Gumm said. “Today we took a giant leap in protecting these families who face extraordinary challenges in the struggle to improve the life experience of their children.”

Autism is a growing national epidemic afflicting as many as one in 150 children. Studies have shown that the early treatment and diagnosis – coverage for which is mandated by Nick’s Law – gives autistic children the best chance to reach their God-given potential, Gumm said.

Across the nation, 17 other states – including Texas – have similar mandates requiring insurance providers cover autism disorders, which is characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal communication. Children with autism also suffer from numerous physical ailments including allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, and sleeping disorders.

Wayne Rohde – father of 10-year-old Nick, the inspiration for the bill – said families that have been denied coverage for their autistic children face higher divorce and bankruptcy rates.
“Today, the Oklahoma State Senate has spoken loudly for the children who can not speak for themselves,” Rohde said. “I applaud the senators for passing this dramatic change in the way we seek care and treatment for autism. I think it is fair and just. We pay for our health policy premiums and expect the policy to cover our family.”

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