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Oklahoma State Senate
OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties

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For Immediate Release: May 6, 2008

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm

Senator Gumm: House Leadership Offers Only Confusion and Delay for Oklahoma Families

Senator Jay Paul Gumm reacted with frustration to a letter sent to him by House Speaker Chris Benge.

The Speaker responded to a letter by Senator Gumm delivered Tuesday morning about what the House’s solution would be to the near epidemic incidence of autism in the state. Gumm wrote “Nick’s Law,” a measure that would require insurance companies to cover autism diagnosis and treatment for children.

The measure, passed four times by the Oklahoma Senate, was killed four times by the Republican House leadership. Last week, Speaker Benge announced the House would not even consider the proposal.

“The ‘non-responsive response’ perpetuates a policy of confusion and delay that has become the House’s hallmark on caring for Oklahoma families,” said Gumm, D-Durant.

“We accept the fact the Speaker has the power to kill ‘Nick’s Law’; what is unacceptable is offering not one single construction solution to these families who are struggling to provide care for their autistic children.

Of the Speaker’s response, Gumm said it is easy to write rhetorical phrases of how you may one day help our citizens. “It takes real leadership and real courage, however, to put that concern into motion,” he said. “Instead the Speaker chose to, yet again, turn the House’s back on these families.”

In the letter, Benge cited the 650,000 Oklahomans without healthcare coverage, and fears “Nick’s Law” would expand that number, as reason to oppose the measure.

“Okay, where is his solution on that critical issue?” Gumm asked. “The Speaker is simply trying to play families with autistic children against the uninsured while offering no solutions to either.

“It’s just the old political sidestep that serves no one, except Big Insurance, who continues to report record profits while more and more families fall through the cracks. Certainly, Oklahoma deserves better.”

For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office:  (405) 521-5586

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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