Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bills passed to improve the quality of life for children

An excerpt from the Durant Daily Democrat

Click here to read the entire article.

....The second step forward for children last week was enactment of a bill I amended when it was before the Senate. For years, I have fought to require health insurance to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. That bill, known as “Nick’s Law,” has passed the Senate a number of times only to falter in the House of Representatives.

During my time with parents of children with autism, they raised another issue. Some insurers routinely deny claims for children with autism when they pay claims for the same illnesses or injuries suffered by kids who do not have autism.

For parents of children with autism who pay health insurance premiums knowing the insurance will not cover autism, denial of claims not related to autism is like a punch in the gut. The families are paying for this coverage, and they are being denied for no good reason.

The effort to right this wrong began as a stand-alone bill I filed at the beginning of session. While working to get the bill heard in committee, time ran out. After very productive discussions, we struck a bipartisan agreement to move my proposal forward. I amended a bill on the Senate floor to include my original language.

Senators unanimously approved my amendment to Senate Bill 2045, and the bill passed the Legislature without a single “no” vote. It arrived on Governor Henry’s desk last week, and he signed it into law Friday.

While not everything we want to see on the issue of autism, this was a huge step in the right direction. This was such a bipartisan victory for families, the editorial page of one of the state’s largest newspapers wrote: “Passage of Senate Bill 2045 represents one of the Oklahoma Legislature’s finest hours.”

For me, I am thankful Oklahoma is a better state today for our children. And, I am forever grateful to the people of Senate District 6 for allowing me to be a part of the effort to make it so.

Thanks for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

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