Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thu May 22, 2008
Democrats keep fighting for state coverage of autism

By Michael McNutt
Capitol Bureau
Laurie Mitchell, a grandmother raising an autistic child, said she is grateful for legislators who are continuing to seek legislation that would require insurance companies to cover autism diagnosis and treatment costs.

Even though lawmakers are hoping to end the session Friday, Democratic legislators said Wednesday they are not giving up in their attempt to get legislation heard in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

"These children are worth fighting for, and we have no intention of stopping our fight,” said Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, during a Capitol news conference. "There have been bigger deals done in far less time.”

Mitchell, of Edmond, takes care of her granddaughter, Alaina, 3, who was diagnosed with autism about 18 months ago. Mitchell said Alaina has received some occupational and speech therapy from the state-funded SoonerStart program. But her family, which has insurance and pays hundreds of dollars a month for other treatment, can't afford the expensive behavior treatment programs, which can cost as much as $5,000 a month.

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