House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Democratic Floor Leader Mike Brown
Representative Wallace Collins
Representative Ben Sherrer
House Democrats Welcome Republican Wake-up to Autism
Oklahoma City (January 13, 2009) State Capitol – Several members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus reacted to today’s press release from Speaker Chris Benge’s office regarding autism.
“My response is, ‘Welcome to the table, Speaker Benge,’” Brown said. “I’m gratified to see that the Speaker is aware of at least some of the challenges
Rep. Wallace Collins, who pushed for the bill known as “Nick’s Law” to be heard in the House last session, also expressed willingness to work with Speaker Benge.
“If Speaker Benge would like to hear more about the legislation that Democrats have proposed to help families of children with autism, we are more than willing to sit down and fill him in on what we’ve been fighting for all this time,” said Collins.
“I’m heartened to hear that House Republicans are interested in increasing training for autism specialists, but what I want to know is, what are they going to do for families who need help now?” Collins added. “Do they expect parents of children with autism in our state to sit back and wait for ‘market forces’ to help their children?”
In today’s release, Speaker Benge noted that in our state alone, “potentially thousands of children” need care for autism and related health issues, but that the Republicans’ proposal is designed to “allow market forces to alleviate the costs of autism services and increase access to care”.
“I’ve always said on this issue that, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ If we provide insurance coverage for autism in our state, then the providers will come to take advantage of it,” Collins noted.
“It strikes me as odd that during last year’s Health Care Reform Task Force, the issue of challenges
In a recent report titled “The Child Advocate,” the Oklahoma Institute on Child Advocacy noted that autism is the “fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the
“It just goes to show there remains an apparent priority to protect the insurance industry over
Brown, for now, remains welcoming to Speaker Benge’s newly found concern for autism.
“I’m not going to ask where Speaker Benge was last year, when a member of his party refused to hear a bill to reform insurance companies’ discriminatory practices against autism. And I’m not going to ask where he was when he rejected pleas from his Democratic colleagues and families of children with autism to consider amendments on the subject. For the moment, I’m just happy that he knows autism is an issue we need to address.”