OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: April 14, 2009
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Senate Breathes Life into Autism Insurance Coverage Proposal
The Oklahoma Senate breathed life into a proposal
to provide insurance coverage for children with autism.
An amendment was attached to House Bill 2027, House
leadership’s bill to train more therapists. The amendment,
enacted without debate, would require the Oklahoma Health Insurance
High Risk Pool (OHRP) to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism
consistent with what has become known as “Nick’s Law.”
“Just like there is nothing wrong with a pack
of shingles at a construction site, there is nothing wrong with
the original bill,” said Senator Jay
Paul Gumm, a Democrat from Durant who originally sponsored
autism insurance legislation. “But you cannot put on the
shingles before you pour the foundation."
“The Senate, today, poured the foundation
and created comprehensive bill that offers a glimmer of hope to
families struggling to care for their children with autism.”
The Oklahoma Health Insurance High Risk Pool was
created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1995 to provide access
to health insurance coverage to all residents of the state who
are unable to obtain individual health insurance.
The pool charges premiums for its insurance, just
as traditional health insurers do, according to information from
the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Premiums could seem high because
they are not partially paid by an employer. However, the premiums
will be no more than 50 percent above standard health insurance
Because the Pool covers high-risk people, it incurs
a higher level of claims than premiums can cover. The insurance
industry pays into the pool to make up the difference and help
it remain viable.
“The High Risk Pool was designed to be the
insurer of last resort,” said Gumm. “It seems to be
a perfect compromise between those who oppose a mandate on all
insurance companies and those of us who support ending insurance
discrimination against children with autism.
“We who have fought for ‘Nick’s
Law’ have always been willing to compromise, to find common
ground. I believe there is a strong desire to help these families
– we simply have to find a comprehensive way that really
helps these families rather than simply ease political pressure.
The amended bill does just that.”
The bill, with Gumm’s amendment, was approved
by the Senate on a unanimous 48-0 vote. The measure is destined
for a conference committee where a final version will be developed.
For more information contact:
Sen. Gumm's Office: 405-521-5586