OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: November 20, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
“Nick’s Law” will be “Senate Bill 1”
for 2009 Session
The first Senate bill filed for the upcoming
legislative session is “Nick’s Law.” Senator Jay
Paul Gumm is the principal author of Senate Bill 1, which would
require insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of
autism in children.
Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, first filed the bill in 2008. The
measure won bipartisan support in the Senate, but it was stopped
by a small group of Republican leaders in the House of Representatives.
Gumm said then he would renew his fight for the bill, which he says
is critical for children all over Oklahoma.
“Children with autism who do not receive therapy can be virtually
cut off from the world for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“The real tragedy is we know for a fact therapy can save them
from that fate – unfortunately, thousands of Oklahoma children
are denied treatment by insurance companies. This is a health issue
and it is a moral issue.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 150
American children will be diagnosed with autism, a bio-neurological
condition that appears in early childhood and impacts the ability
to communicate and interact with others. While medical science has
yet to determine the exact cause or cure, treatment has been proven
to significantly improve outcomes.
Republicans and Democrats across the country have joined hands to
enact autism insurance legislation like “Nick’s Law.”
In July, Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal –
one of the GOP’s “rising stars” – signed
autism legislation that was sponsored by a Republican state representative
from Baton Rouge.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, another high-profile Republican governor,
signed that state’s autism bill in June
– a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature.
Also, 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.
“In state-after-state, bills requiring insurance to cover
autism diagnosis and treatment are crossing the
partisan divide,” Gumm said. “Several Republicans state
representatives are already on record saying they will support the
bill. Now, it is time for their leadership to join GOP lawmakers
and governors across the nation and do the right thing for these
Gumm’s legislation is named for 11-year-old Nick Rohde of
Edmond, who suffers from autism. His father, Wayne Rohde, and other
parents of autistic children spent, countless hours at the Capitol
last year winning support for the bill. Earlier this fall, “Nick’s
Law” was named the top 2009 legislative priority for the Oklahoma
Institute for Child Advocacy.
“House Republican leaders have an amazing opportunity to become
heroes by passing this bill, and no one will sing their praises
louder than I will,” Gumm said. “All they have to do
is live up to their ‘family values’ rhetoric and put
the lives of these children ahead of insurance company profits.
“For just about every other Oklahoman, this is an easy choice.”
For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586