Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-OK) talks with Nicole about "Nick's Law", a measure that would require health insurance policies cover diagnosis and treatment for autistic children.
There have been few developments in the battle to pass Nick's Law since the session ended. Mostly, those who opposed the measure have been trying desperately to find political cover for their position, which is not terribly popular.
The House of Representatives announced three interim studies on autism - none of which will study requiring insurance coverage. One proposes a "state school for autism," which would rip these children from their families and warehouse them in Chickasha. This proposal has received great opposition from families with autistic children. Another would look into the state services currently offered to autistic children, which parents could tell them is very little.
Another proposal beginning to make the rounds comes from a right-wing think tank - the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. They are proposing $20,000 vouchers for families with autistic children to send the kids to private schools. This is similar to a program Ohio has. There are a number of problems with the plan - not the least of which is it is a government handout that puts the burden solely on taxpayers and is dependent on government funding. We had a standstill budget this year, and are projecting one for next year - there simply isn't government money to handle this right now. Ironic such a proposal is coming from an organization that espouses "limited government."
Families with autistic children do not want a government handout - they want the insurance they already pay for to cover the health challenges they have. That is the way insurance is supposed to work and that is why Nick's Law is a foundation for a comprehensive strategy to fight autism that includes both public and private entities.