OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: April 20, 2010
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Measure Providing Insurance Fairness for
Children with Autism Goes to Governor
A bipartisan effort has put a bill on Governor Henry’s
desk to make certain health insurance companies cover the same illnesses
for children with autism as they do children without such a diagnosis.
That assurance is contained in Senate Bill 2045. When the bill was
before the Senate, Senator Jay
Paul Gumm proposed the language as an amendment, which senators
overwhelmingly approved. The amended bill passed both the Senate
and House of Representatives and is now on its way to the governor.
“During my work with families who have children with autism,
this was one of their highest priorities,” said Gumm, a Democrat
from Durant. “We have families who have children with autism
who pay their premiums and expect to be treated fairly. This amended
bill will ensure that very thing.”
The senator said dozens of families told him some insurance companies
routinely deny claims filed on behalf of children with autism for
illnesses and maladies unrelated to the diagnosis of autism. Such
claims were denied because Oklahoma does not require health insurance
policies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism and most insurers
specifically exclude autism.
“For me,” Gumm said, “this issue speaks to the
fundamental moral question of ‘fairness.’ Regardless
of anyone’s stand on whether insurers should be required to
cover diagnosis and treatment of autism, one fundamental fact remains:
If a child with autism breaks an arm on the playground or gets sick,
they should be covered the same as any other child.”
Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, said his measure began as a stand-alone
bill. After discussing the issue with Sen. Bill Brown, R-Broken
Arrow, and chair of the Senate Committee on Retirement and Insurance,
a bipartisan agreement was struck to include the language in one
of Brown’s bills.
“I want to express my deep appreciation to both Senator Brown
and Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee,” Gumm said.
“Their support has made it possible to get this legislation
through both chambers and to the governor. Families across Oklahoma
will benefit because we worked together.
“It shows that we can set aside partisan differences and find
that common ground on which we can build a better Oklahoma for all
our citizens, and this was a critical step toward fairness for our
children and families who are struggling with autism.”
For more information, contact:
Sen. Gumm: (405) 521-5586