OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
Contact: Senator Jay Paul Gumm
State Capitol: (405) 521-5586
Durant: (580) 924-2221
Mobile: (580) 920-6990
For Immediate Release: August 29, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Senator Gumm’s “Senate Minute” Column
Week of August 29-September 4, 2008
Hello again, everybody! The biggest battle in the
Legislature last session was our fight to require health insurance
to cover autism.
Now that campaign season is fully underway, that fight is being
played out in campaigns across the state. Dozens of candidates for
the Legislature – of both political parties – are announcing
their full-throated support for “Nick’s Law,”
while those who oppose it are desperately scrambling for any political
cover they can find.
Case in point is the dog-and-pony show being conducted by the leadership
in the House of Representatives. Keep in mind this is the same leadership
team that killed “Nick’s Law” without so much
as a vote.
They have commissioned an interim study to look at health care
reform. One of their first witnesses was the executive director
of a Washington, D.C. group that exists solely to oppose policies
like “Nick’s Law.” The term “special interest
group” is a pretty accurate description of this organization.
This was hardly an unbiased first step for a supposedly fair and
It did not have to be this way. The Republican leadership of the
House of Representatives made this a partisan fight – and
families with autistic children are their victims.
It was not a partisan issue in the Oklahoma Senate, senators from
both political parties voted for “Nick’s Law.”
In state-after-state, we are seeing elected officials of both political
parties put aside partisanship and work together to do the right
Last month, Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed
a bill requiring health insurance companies in that state to cover
diagnosis and treatment of autism. That new law was written by a
Republican and passed the Louisiana Legislature with unanimous support
from both parties.
Jindal is one of the national Republican Party’s “rising
stars,” and he is not the first high-profile Republican governor
to sign autism insurance legislation this year. Florida Gov. Charlie
Crist signed his state’s autism bill, which was passed by
a Republican-controlled legislature.
In Pennsylvania, Republican House Speaker Dennis O’Brien
championed a measure – which passed the House unanimously
and a Republican-controlled state Senate 49-1 – that will
allow parents of autistic children to pay for behavioral therapy
and related services with private health insurance.
Here in Oklahoma, House leaders could have been heroes to autistic
children; we begged them to do so. Some House Republicans publicly
say they will vote for the bill – if only given a chance.
It is their leadership that is denying them that chance, and denying
Oklahoma’s autistic children with a chance to fulfill their
One thing is clear in this battle, which is now being debated in
legislative elections across Oklahoma. The position of Republican
leaders in the Oklahoma House is not only out-of-step with Oklahoma
values, it is out of step with Republicans nationwide, and it is
nothing less than shameful.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have
a great week, and may God bless you all.
Editor’s Note: Senator Jay Paul Gumm is serving his second
term in the Oklahoma Senate; he was first elected in 2002. A Democrat
from Durant, the lawmaker is co-chair of the Senate’s Energy
& Environment Committee. Previously, he served a term as chair
of the Senate Finance Committee. In 2008, he wrote “Nick’s
Law,” a bill that would have required health insurance policies
to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism in children.
For more information
Sen. Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586