Wednesday, March 31, 2010

79% of OK voters approve of Nick's Law

OK Gazette
March 31, 2010, run by Shapard Research, surveyed 1,000 likely registered voters statewide between Feb. 25 and March 8. The poll has a 3.1 percent margin of error. For those contemplating a run at political office this year, here are a couple of campaign tips based on the poll: Better do thorough research on autism, and, for God’s sakes, limit the booze.

A caring state

Oklahoma’s public health is a constant topic, with most indicators showing the state as one of the least healthy in the country. Partisan sides are drawing battle lines with a different medical issue.

The state does not require insurance companies to provide medical coverage for autistic children, a growing segment of the population. Debate in the state Legislature has been heated, with attempts to mandate such coverage. The Republican-controlled House and Senate have successfully thwarted all attempts at autism legislation. In fact, a bill has never even made it through either chamber for a vote.

But according to the poll, those opposed to such measures might want to keep their opinion to themselves. SoonerPoll found nearly 80 percent favor requiring health insurance to cover diagnosis and treatment of children with autism.

Gaddie, vice president of Shapard Research, said that number shows the autism side winning the public opinion battle.

“First of all, you have public acceptance that it is a medical condition that is deserving of insurance coverage, and that there is a moral obligation for insurance companies to engage in that type of coverage,” said Gaddie, an Oklahoma Gazette commentary writer.

This is some of the best news autism insurance advocate Wayne Rohde has received since taking on the fight. The poll is encouraging, but even he is surprised how much support is out there.

“I was kind of believing 60 percent would be a good number to have,” Rohde said. “When we hit higher numbers, it really hit home that it transcends across all political ideologies, economic status and religious views.”

Rohde has been pushing Nick’s Law on lawmakers, named after his autistic son, Nicholas.

Almost 54 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote against a candidate who did not support mandated autism insurance coverage. And 66 percent support a state ballot initiative to make a law requiring coverage.}

This is more ammunition for Rohde. He said his first two options are for insurance companies to start providing coverage on their own, or letting the Legislature adopt a law or put the issue on the November ballot.

But he is prepared to take it to the people.

“If the Legislature keeps turning their backs on the special-needs children, then we have to proceed another action,” Rohde said. “That is the signature petition initiative which I believed would be supported by a majority of Oklahomans. We are a very caring state for our neighbors.”

Click here to read the entire article and view charts.

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