Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Conservative Case for Nick's Law

As posted on Okie Pundit blog. Click here to read on the blog.

One of the most contentious issues for debate at the Oklahoma Legislature the past two sessions was about insurance mandates -specifically, autism insurance coverage known as Nick’s Law.

Over the last 2 years, we have seen 10 states pass autism insurance coverage legislation to join Texas, Indiana, and South Carolina. Now that 13 states have addressed the autism epidemic by providing insurance coverage for tens of thousands of children, Oklahoma is faced with over 6500+ children still without healthcare.

During the past legislative session, the House and Senate Leadership would not entertain discussion of Nick’s Law, rather they passed legislation that provides for new tax dollars to be used for potentially recruiting and training therapists to provide treatments for our children, while ignoring the fact that the reason for the acute shortage of therapists in Oklahoma is due to the inability to establish a reliable revenue source.

Therapists who have to rely on out of pocket payments from parents cannot survive. This has been proven time and time again in other states.

The underlying message that state after state echo with the passage of the autism insurance mandate is: It is the fiscally responsible thing to do for the taxpayers and the morally responsible thing to do for these children.

Because of the tremendous cost that parents provide for their sick children, the autism community has divorce rates of 80%, bankruptcy rates 5 times the norm, and the mental health of the family unit in decline.

These children will become adults soon. The majority of persons with autism are children under the age of 16. Once they become adults and without the medically necessary treatments and clinically proven therapies, their care will be on the shoulders of the taxpayers.

Some estimates are around $3.25 million per individual. There are currently 400+ children in Oklahoma being diagnosed with autism each year.

The cost of Nick’s Law has been supported by two specific cost/benefit studies concluding the potential cost to be less than 0.3% to 1.0%. And another 23 actuarial studies clearly concluding that the cost of other state’s legislation to be consistent with the cost/benefit impact studies of Nick’s Law. And there is no evidence in the other states that the number of uninsured has increased, nor have insurance premiums increased. Several of the states have uninsured numbers greater than Oklahoma.

This is a great test of the legislature to define what are true family value policies and act as true fiscal conservatives. The legislature needs to pass Nick’s Law and stop forcing the parents and these children into the state run and paid for health care system.

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