Lawmaker: Autism bill has momentum

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The author of legislation to require health insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism says public support for the proposal is growing.

But the measure still faces an uphill battle in the Oklahoma House where opponents say an autism mandate would drive up the cost of health insurance.

The proposal by Democrat Sen. Jay Paul Gumm of Durant is similar to legislation approved by the Senate last spring. That bill was blocked by House Republican leaders who refused to give it a hearing in spite of emotional pleas from the parents of autistic children.

The bill died when the Legislature adjourned in May.

But Gumm says today that momentum is building for Nick's Law, named for Nick Rohde, a 10-year-old autistic child from Edmond. He says several newspapers have editorialized in favor of the mandate and the bill will have widespread support when the Legislature convenes in February.

House GOP leaders say a health insurance mandate alone will not meet the needs of autistic children and their families.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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