Thursday, February 12, 2009

McCarville Report Online

Autism Bill Draws Support, Discussion

Democratic Floor Leader Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, and Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, today praised the passage of a bill designed to enhance services for autism in the state, but cautioned that the bill may not do enough to help families of children with this disease. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Speaker Pro Tem Kris Steele to ensure this bill is as effective as possible,” Brown said. “I’ve always believed that we can craft good legislation by reaching across the aisle to share our concerns and then allow full debate by the good public servants of the House of Representatives." Brown and Steele, R-Shawnee, collaborated on improving language to HB2027 before it was introduced on the House floor to ensure that the bill would remain in full compliance with existing statutes. “I’ve visited with administrators at Northeastern State University, and they’re ready to implement this training program. As soon as this funding comes through, they are set to start training autism providers,” Brown added. “This bill, however, remains only a partial solution to the greater problem of helping families of children with autism,” Brown stated. “They face greater challenges not addressed by this bill, such as paying for costly treatment for their children. Since many insurance companies don’t cover care for autism, even families who can afford private insurance may not be able to afford treatment – so how will these new providers afford to stay in Oklahoma?” Dorman joined Brown in praising passage of the bill, but also held reservations whether this bill does enough to help Oklahoma families. “My greatest concern is that without a way to ensure these providers a mechanism for payment, we’ll experience a ‘brain drain’ and lose them to other states,” said Dorman. “Training more autism providers is an excellent step in the right direction, but I am concerned especially for people in rural areas that they will still be unable to find autism specialists or pay for their services.”

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