Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: April 14, 2016
Autism coverage bill gains Senate approval
Oklahoma is one of only seven states that doesn’t require
insurance companies to cover treatment for children with autism.
On Thursday, the full Senate joined the House in supporting a measure
that would bring Oklahoma into line with the majority of states,
helping thousands of families with autistic children finally get
the help they need. House Bill 2962 was approved with bipartisan
support 36 to 5.
Griffin and Rep. Jason Nelson are the principal authors of HB
2962, which would require coverage for the screening, diagnosis
and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in individuals younger
than 9 years old. If the child isn’t diagnosed or doesn’t
receive treatment until after three years of age, they would be
eligible for at least six years of benefits as long as he or she
shows sufficient progress and improvement. Under the legislation,
children would have access to applied behavior analysis for up to
25 hours a week, with a cap of $25,000 a year. The bill includes
what Griffin called a cost safety valve which would terminate the
mandate if premiums increased by more than 1 percent.
She said concerns about similar mandates costing too much have
not panned out in other states. Griffin said by not ensuring more
families get treatment for their children, the cost shifts to Oklahoma
taxpayers because many of those diagnosed may end up relying more
heavily on state care.
“One in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
If it isn’t something your family dealing with, chances are
you know someone whose family is” said Griffin, R-Guthrie.
“The good news is the right kind of treatment can make a dramatic
difference in helping these children become independent, productive
individuals. Forty-three other states already make sure their children
are covered. It’s time for Oklahoma to become the forty-fourth
state to enact this law.”
Among those watching Thursday’s Senate vote was Tara Hood,
of Guthrie, the mother of two children with autism spectrum disorder.
ASD is a brain disorder that affects how a person processes sensory
information and their ability to interact and relate to others.
Those profoundly affected may have extremely limited verbal ability
and other problems, which left untreated, may prevent them from
ever leading an independent life. Hood said when parents receive
that diagnosis it’s a kick in the gut.
“It’s a double kick in the gut in Oklahoma to get that
autism diagnosis. You know there is therapy. It’s life changing
and you can’t access that therapy unless you come from a significant
amount of money, or you can move to any state that borders Oklahoma
and get that coverage for your child,” Hood said. “Not
having access to medically necessary treatment is an unjust burden
that Oklahoma families have been carrying for too long.”
Hood said enacting HB 2962 would make a dramatic difference in
the lives of thousands of Oklahoma children, and for their families,
and thanked Griffin and Nelson for their efforts.
“I believe this is a thoughtful approach that has addressed
a variety of concerns,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “I
want to thank the many parents and advocates who have worked so
hard on this issue. Their efforts and the support of our fellow
members will give hope to countless Oklahoma families by giving
their children access to therapy that works.”
The measure now returns to the House of Representative for further
For more information, contact:
Sen. Griffin: (405) 521-5628