The State of
OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
December 4, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Senator Jay Paul Gumm
State Capitol: (405) 521-5586
Durant Office: (580) 924-4717
Momentum, Editorial Support Grows for “Nick’s Law”
Even Editorial Opposition Admits “Bill Will be Hard to Stop”
(For digital audio, go to http://www.oksenate.gov/ and select “News”)
“I continue to hear from more families and child advocates who know this bill is the right thing to do,” said Senator Jay Paul Gumm, author of Nick’s Law. “Since the legislation was first introduced, we’ve seen a growing number of newspapers throughout the state voice editorial support for the measure.”
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the
To date, newspapers in
In 2008, the measure repeatedly passed the Oklahoma Senate with bipartisan support. Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, said there was bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, as well. A small group of House Republicans, led by now-former Rep. Ron Peterson worked to prevent even a vote on the bill.
“I’ve said it repeatedly: Autism strikes families from all walks of life, families from both political parties,” he said. “Conservative Republican lawmakers in other states have written, fought for and passed similar legislation. High-profile Republican governors already being talked about as presidential candidates have signed into law similar legislation.”
In a national Associated Press story by medical writer Lindsey Tanner, a study published in the
According to the story, these families endure health care costs that put “unprecedented financial strain” on families. Further, the report notes that when compared with parents of children with chronic health care needs other than autism, those with autistic children are three times more likely to have quit jobs or cut back on work hours to care for their children.
These families pay more for their children’s health care, spend more time providing or arranging for that care and are more likely to have financial challenges. Lost wages and high health care costs compound the struggles of these families, often leading to divorce.
“Every shred of evidence points to the fact that bills like Nick’s Law do make a huge difference in the lives of these children and their families and are unquestionably ‘pro-family,’” Gumm said. “This bill is not a complete solution – no one has claimed it is – but it is the foundation on which we can build while ultimately saving taxpayers’ dollars.
“To do nothing, is to condemn these children to a lifetime locked behind the walls of autism. To do nothing condemns these parents to a lifetime of unprecedented financial struggles. To do nothing condemns taxpayers to eventually picking up the tab. To do nothing is unconscionable.”