With more states across the nation considering and passing legislation requiring insurance companies to cover treatment for autism, Sen. Jay Paul Gumm is vowing a renewed effort next session to pass similar legislation in Oklahoma.
Gumm is the author of “Nick’s Law,” the bill that would have required health insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism. The measure received strong support in the State Senate by both Republicans and Democrats, but was stopped by House Republicans.
“Current practices in our state are discriminatory and nothing short of a travesty. As a growing number of states address this tragic health care need, I believe it will become more difficult for Republican House leaders in Oklahoma to argue that it simply can’t be done,” Gumm said.
The Democrat senator from Durant pointed to the passage of mandatory coverage in the state of South Carolina. The legislation was drafted and lobbied by Lorri and Dan Unumb, parents of 7-year-old Ryan Unumb who has been diagnosed with autism.
“The Unumb’s efforts are gaining national media attention—and South Carolina isn’t the only state to step up to the plate. Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana and Arizona have all passed legislation to require insurance companies cover autism,” Gumm said.
Other states, including Virginia, are also considering similar autism legislation. Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) placed the issue at the top of its priorities for the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature.
Wayne Rohde of Edmond, Oklahoma, is the father of 10-year-old Nick, the child who inspired the legislation known as “Nick’s Law.” Rohde said he was encouraged to see other states succeed in passing similar measures.
“It is just another example of what we need to do in Oklahoma to address the epidemic of autism...as more and more states pass legislation similar to what we proposed with Nick’s Law, it will give us momentum,” Rohde said. Hopefully the legislature will step up and do the right thing.”