OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: January 11, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Lawmakers to Consider Proposal to Mandate Insurance Coverage
for Autism Treatment
A bill filed this week by Senator Jay
Paul Gumm would mandate health insurance policies cover
treatment for a disorder affecting nearly one in every 150 children.
Senate Bill 1537 would require insurance policies to cover health
issues related to autistic disorders. National research shows that
one in every 150 children will be diagnosed with some form of autism.
Currently, 17 states have similar insurance mandates.
Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, said his bill called Nick's Law
would give more families in Oklahoma a chance to seek both diagnosis
and treatment for an affliction that is growing at an alarming rate.
Autism is as great as any health challenge a child and family would
face, the lawmaker said. Health insurance policies should
include protection from debilitating disorders like autism. Families
facing autism should not have to worry whether an insurance company
bureaucrat has determined it isn't cost effective to cover diagnosis
Autism is still a relatively newly diagnosed disease. Those afflicted
with it are characterized by impaired social interaction, problems
with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive,
or severely limited activities and interests.
Wayne Rohde father of 10-year-old Nick and a member of a concerned
group of parents and doctors called the Oklahoma Autism Coalition
said Oklahoma needs a legislative fix to help provide parents care
that is needed.
We need a complete systematic change in the way we provide care
to individuals with autism and Nick’s Law is the cornerstone
for that change, Rohde said.
Aggressive treatments can potentially give diagnosed autistic
children aged 3 and younger a 50 percent chance of navigating through
a mainstream public school system with limited assistance.
Research shows us that early intervention is the key giving these
children the best chance of fulfilling their God-given potential,
Gumm said. Health insurance exists for challenges like this.
No insured family should ever have to doubt whether they will get
the help they expected when they bought insurance.
Gumm said his bill is a reasonable, proactive plan to address a
crippling problem that is affecting more families than ever.
This coverage is desperately needed to give autistic children in
Oklahoma an opportunity to have a healthy and traditional childhood
experience, he said. As a matter of policy, this bill is an important
first step in a long-term effort to ensure no Oklahoma child with
autism will be left behind.
For more information contact:
Senator Jay Paul Gumm
State Capitol: (405) 521-5586
Durant Office: (580) 924-4717