Sen. Jay Paul Gumm on Nick's Law

By: Nicole Holt Email
By: Nicole Holt Email

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.


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  • by Wayne Rohde Location: Edmond, Oklahoma on Jul 22, 2008 at 09:27 AM
    Brandon: Let’s make sure we have all the facts on Autism, Nick’s Law, and the solution for OK. I do not endorse a voucher program that leads us down a path of destroying public education, especially in rural school districts. We need a total systemic change in Oklahoma in how we provide medical care for our autistic children and young adults. The cornerstone for that change is Nick’s Law, insurance coverage for medically necessary autism related treatments. Using the current estimate of 6,000 children in Oklahoma with autism, if all are given your proposed “scholarship” of $20000/year, Oklahoma’s taxpayers would be funding $120 million/year, every year with 400-500 children added to the roles each year. There is a lot of talk about protecting the taxpayers when it comes to the budget, homeland security, tax policy, education, and immigration. However, when the topic turns to health care, taxpayers get thrown under the bus and the insurance lobby is rabidly defended.
  • by Robyne Rohde Location: Edmond, Oklahoma on Jul 21, 2008 at 03:24 PM
    To Brandon-as the Mother of Nick Rohde, let me say you are sadly misinformed and obviously work for OCPA. My husband has NEVER said that a tax-credit scholarship program is preferable. There are many reasons why this 'scholarship program' the OCPA is touting would not work in Oklahoma. I will allow my husband to elaborate on this topic, since you or shall I say the OCPA is spreading misinformation about his position on this topic. Wayne Rohde is the most informed individual in this state, with the exception of Senator Gumm on what these children need in the form of insurance coverage for medically necessary therapies. Once again, the OCPA prefers the taxpayers pick up the tab for children who don't receive appropriate treatments for their medical condition and right now, the lifetime tab for these children is $3.6 million.
  • by Nathaniel Location: Madill on Jul 21, 2008 at 12:26 PM
    A voucher by any other name is still a voucher. Seems like the OCPA is supporting taxpayer handouts. I wonder if they will be for the taxes necessary to fund them?
  • by Brandon Dutcher Location: Oklahoma City on Jul 21, 2008 at 09:25 AM
    Sen. Gumm is being a little sloppy with the facts. OCPA is not proposing a voucher; we have long pointed out that school vouchers run afoul of our state constitution and that a tax-credit scholarship program for autistic children is preferable. In any case, it's odd that Sen. Gumm would oppose school choice for autistic children when the primary champion of Nick's Law (none other than Nick's father) says school choice "can be part of the total solution for Oklahoma."
  • by Mom Location: OK on Jul 21, 2008 at 09:23 AM
    Keep working on them Jay Paul. My son has Asperger syndrome (form of Autism), and I know exactly the problem. The school won't do anything for him because he is not retarded or flunking out, and the insurance company won't even pay for an evaluation (they say the school should do it). I don't want to send my boy away from home. That would make him even worse. He needs to learn how to get along in life, not be locked up in some facility. With a little speech, occupational therapy, and social skills he could work for NASA. Without these he may end up living with me the rest of his life. Those cheap, heartless Republicans in OKC don't are afraid they might have to spend a dime. I already pay his insurance premiums, I just want the right to use the benefits. I bet they get their Viagra paid for in insurance benefits. It is so unfair!
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