OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: September 30, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Mandate Myths – The Battle for Autistic Children
President Kennedy said, “The great enemy of
the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived
and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and
unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without
the discomfort of thought.”
As we fought for health insurance coverage of children with autism
last session, we fought a “persistent, persuasive and unrealistic”
myth. The constant refrain from those who oppose helping these families
is that insurance mandates like “Nick’s Law” raise
premiums and increase the number of people who are uninsured.
The facts unravel the arguments on which the opponents of “Nick’s
Law” depend. Compare the number of legislative mandates among
several states. Then, in those states with more legislative mandates,
on should look at the percentage of uninsured. Finally, one should
examine premium costs in those states compared to Oklahoma.
We have 36 health insurance mandates in Oklahoma; 20 states have
less and 29 states have more. For their myth to be accurate, every
state with more health insurance mandates should have both higher
premium costs and more uninsured. Here is where their myth unravels.
Four of the states that have more mandates and lower average premiums
are Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. Also, they are
among the states with a lower percentage of uninsured residents
than Oklahoma has.
Oklahoma has almost 19 percent of our residents without health
insurance. In Missouri, the rate of uninsured is12.3 percent; in
Washington, 12.5 percent; in Virginia, 13.2 percent of its residents
are uninsured; and, in Tennessee, the number is 13.4 percent.
The number of uninsured in individual states has more to do with
per capita personal income and the cost of living than legislative
requirements that health insurance cover specific illnesses. There
are exceptions even to that.
California, one of the most expensive states in which to live,
has an average health insurance premium that is cheaper than in
Oklahoma. On top of that, California has 14 more legislative health
insurance mandates than Oklahoma.
This myth has only one purpose: allow some to turn their backs
on autistic children “without the discomfort of thought.”
During the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, the myth allowed
a small number of Republican leaders in the House of Representatives
to deny a hearing on “Nick’s Law” without the
discomfort of a real debate.
The reason is twofold. First, they know their argument will never
hold up under real scrutiny, so they put up this smokescreen for
political cover. Second, they know a majority of House members –
Republicans and Democrats alike – will vote for “Nick’s
Law” if given a chance, just like what happened in the evenly-divided
The real tragedy of House leaders’ tactics is the continued
unimaginable financial strain on families with autistic children.
“Nick’s Law” will help, if House leaders will
only give the measure a hearing. This is a chance for them to do
more than talk about “family values”; it is a chance
for them to truly value families.
For more information
Senator Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586