OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: March
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Mandated Autism Coverage Passes Senate;
Coverage Responsible to Oklahoma Families
An amendment that would require health insurance policies
to cover diagnosis, treatment and therapy for autism disorders passed
the Oklahoma Senate on a bipartisan vote today.
The plan, called “Nick’s Law,” will give Oklahoma
families a better opportunity to fight a disability affecting more
children than ever. Both Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, and Senator
Mary Easley, D-Tulsa, proposed amendments to a pair of bills that
were subsequently approved and sent to the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers said empowering parents and holding powerful insurance
companies accountable to their policyholders is the right thing
to do. He said the proposal is fiscally responsible to taxpayers
and morally responsible to children in Oklahoma.
“The fact that many Democrats and Republicans joined hands
in passing Nick’s Law shows that this is an issue that transcends
parties and politics.” Gumm said. “Today we took a giant
leap in protecting these families who face extraordinary challenges
in the struggle to improve the life experience of their children.”
According to Easley, autism is a growing national epidemic afflicting
as many as one in 150 children. Studies have shown that the early
treatment and diagnosis – coverage for which is mandated by
Nick’s Law – gives autistic children the best chance
to reach their God-given potential, she said.
Across the nation, 17 other states – including Texas –
have similar mandates requiring insurance providers cover autism
disorders, which is characterized by impaired social interaction
and verbal communication. Children with autism also suffer from
numerous physical ailments including allergies, asthma, epilepsy,
digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, and sleeping disorders.
Wayne Rohde – father of 10-year-old Nick, the inspiration
for the bill – said families that denied coverage for their
autistic children face higher divorce and bankruptcy rates.
“Today, the Oklahoma State Senate has spoken loudly for the
children who can not speak for themselves,” Rohde said. “I
applaud the senators for passing this dramatic change in the way
we seek care and treatment for autism. I think it is fair and just.
We pay for our health policy premiums and expect the policy to cover
For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586