OKLAHOMA CITY – Yogi Berra’s words – “It ain’t over until it’s over” – still has a slim chance of ringing true for families fighting for autism insurance, according to the bill’s sponsor.
Monday (May 19), two newspapers – both in predominantly Republican communities – published editorials in support of “Nick’s Law,” a measure by Senator Jay Paul Gumm that would require health insurance policies cover diagnosis and treatment for autistic children.
The Edmond Sun and The Enid News & Eagle both published editorials supportive of the proposal. The plan passed the Oklahoma Senate on four separate occasions only to be buried in the House of Representatives each time.
“Republicans, Democrats and independent voters across the state overwhelmingly support “Nick’s Law’,” said Gumm, D-Durant. “Supportive editorials in newspapers serving ‘rock-ribbed Republican’ communities further illustrate how amazingly out of step those are who will not even allow a vote on the bill.”
The Enid newspaper acknowledged the effort by families with autistic children, relating the families “have not been deterred in trying to make lawmakers see the light.” Further, the newspaper wrote it believes “this situation deserves more consideration and that families of autistic children need consideration by insurance companies.”
In the Edmond paper, which serves the hometown of 10-year-old Nicholas Rohde, the Nick of “Nick’s Law,” editorial writers noted, “Bearing the cost of autism alone is hurting these Oklahoma families.”
In addition, the newspaper wrote about the Rubicon School in Edmond, which serves autistic children. The editorial described some of the financial threats to the school and services on which parents and children depend.
Finally, the Edmond paper wrote, “Clearly as the number of families battling autism rises, more aid will be needed. Ensuring insurance coverage for medical treatment of this epidemic is a clear first step in providing the help necessary for a brighter future for these children and their families.”
These newspapers join The Tulsa World, which weeks ago expressed its editorial support.
“We are seeing more support for ‘Nick’s Law’ across the political spectrum,” he said. “Speaker Benge has a chance to become a hero, and I pray he takes that opportunity rather than continuing down a shadowy path that is completely out of step with Oklahoma’s values.”
Acknowledging it would take a miracle to make “Nick’s Law” a reality before the Legislature adjourns Friday, Gumm said none of the families and their advocates would ever give up until the measure becomes law.
“It might take a miracle,” he said. “But anyone who has seen these parents and the love they have for their children know that miracles can happen. I have seen how much they care for their children; they are the most inspiring of parents.
“The work they do for their children, the passion with which they have fought for their children at the Capitol, remind me of words spoken by President Kennedy in his inaugural address when he said, ‘Here on earth, God’s work must surely be our own.’ The families have put those words into action better than just about anyone I ever have had the privilege to see.”