Friday, May 16, 2008

Benge: Autism bill needs more study


OKLAHOMA CITY — The parents of a child with autism said a meeting with House Speaker Chris Benge did not persuade the lawmaker to hear a bill seeking insurance coverage for autism.

A spokeswoman for Benge, Jennifer Mock, said the Tulsa Republican believes that the issue needs further study and that the meeting did not change his mind.

Wayne and Robyne Rohde of Edmond, whose 10-year-old son, Nick, has autism, met Tuesday with Benge.

"We did not really get any good results out of it," Wayne Rohde said.

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, has sponsored Senate Bill 1537, legislation that would require insurance coverage for autism. The bill is called "Nick's Law."

Gumm said an analysis by a Pennsylvania expert indicates that the impact on insurance rates would be $1.66 per member per month for single policy rates and $4.59 for family rates.

Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, said Benge asked him to review the findings of the report, adding that it was prepared by a person who is with an autism advocacy group.

"We will be reviewing the assumptions made in this report to determine the validity and accuracy of its findings," Peterson said.

it is imperative that we have an independent, thorough review of the true costs of this mandate."

Gumm said the study is unimpeachable and that he stands by the report.

He said any group chosen by House Republicans to conduct a study won't be independent.

To read the entire report, click here.

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