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Oklahoma State Senate
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2008

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm

Study Shows Autism Coverage Financially Responsible

A study released today shows passage of “Nick’s Law” would not spike insurance costs and would ultimately save taxpayers millions.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm – chief sponsor of “Nick’s Law,” a bill requiring health insurance to cover autism diagnosis and treatment – said the study shows a negligible premium cost. The measure would represent only a 0.47 percent premium cost, roughly a tenth of the current rate of inflation.

Opponents of the measure – especially House Speaker Chris Benge – have claimed “Nick’s Law” would increase insurance costs and drive up the number of uninsured Oklahomans.

“Hogwash,” was the answer from Senator Gumm. “The study we delivered to the Speaker today, and made available to the media, shows the cost would be less than one-half of one percent,” said Gumm, D-Durant.

“That translates to less than one-half penny for every dollar in premium costs. Certainly, such a negligible cost would not drive up the number of uninsured Oklahomans while providing needed benefits to families struggling to care for their autistic children.”

Benge has been adamant that the House of Representatives would not consider legislation containing “Nick’s Law.” He said an actuarial study, conducted over the next eight months, would be necessary to understand the full costs before he would even consider allowing representatives to consider the measure.

“This study, which did not take eight months, has removed one of the biggest barriers the Speaker has placed before these families,” said Gumm. “Now we will see whether he is interested in a delay tactic, or whether he will give these families a sliver of the hope they deserve in the closing days of the session.”

The 10-page study was prepared by James N. Bouder, MPA, who has prepared similar studies for a number of states. Both his methodology and the results he produced have been accepted as sound by analysts in several states, including Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Florida. Gumm called the study “unimpeachable.”

“The report is written so anyone can see how Mr. Bouder arrived at his numbers,” said Gumm. “He also shows us the cost of not passing the measure. Without insurance coverage ‘Nick’s Law’ provides, the ultimate burden for caring for autistic children and adults will fall to taxpayers, draining millions from state coffers.”

Release of the study comes as new, national pressure is being brought to bear to encourage passage of “Nick’s Law.” Autism Speaks, a national advocacy group for children and families of autism, has purchased advertising that encourages Oklahomans to call the Speaker’s office and ask that “Nick’s Law” be given a hearing.

“It’s down to crunch time now and it’s down to this,” Gumm said. “Either the Speaker will allow his members to consider ‘Nick’s Law’ using a solid actuarial study, or he will sidestep again, continue the doubletalk and delay, all while finding a new excuse to prevent the people’s voice from being heard in what is supposed to be ‘The People’s House.’

“Oklahoma taxpayers and families with autistic children are hanging in the balance, and they deserve a vote.”

PDF file of Bouder Autism Oklahoma Cost Analysis Study

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

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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