As Texas families this week celebrate the signing of legislation expanding the age of mandatory insurance coverage for children with autism, Sen. Jay Paul Gumm said Oklahoma families struggling to care for autistic children deserve better from their state Legislature.
Texas’ new law expands the age of mandatory insurance coverage for children with autism from the time of diagnosis to their 10th birthday. Gumm noted that Texas’ legislation was approved by a majority Republican Legislature and signed by a Republican governor.
“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue – our focus must be on improving quality of life for children with autism and helping families bear the cost of treatment,” said Gumm, D-Durant. “Now that we’ve seen other states effectively deal with this issue, it’s time for the Oklahoma Legislature to do what’s right for our families. We need to step forward and approve meaningful legislation that positively affects the lives of families struggling to care for autistic children.”
Gumm was the author of “Nick’s Law”, which would have required insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism in children. Gumm also authored a proposal to require the Oklahoma Health Insurance High Risk Pool to cover treatment for autism, but both proposals were shelved in the 2009 session.
“Oklahoma and Texas are both conservative states, but we’re moving in opposite directions on this particular issue,” Gumm said. “It suggests that Texas leaders understand the importance of assisting families in need and that an honest examination of the plan’s potential risks has revealed it to be a prudent and morally sound proposal. 'Family values' must be more than a couple of words politicians use at election time; those words must reflect a commitment to policies that truly value families - including those families who have children with autism.”