OKLAHOMA CITY – Following is a statement by Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, author of “Nick’s Law” relating to the enactment of Senate Bill 135:
“Sadly, this bill will do nothing to relieve the pressure on families struggling to care for children with autism. The measure was designed to relieve political pressure on legislators who refuse to even consider ‘Nick’s Law,’ which would require health insurance to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism.
“There is nothing wrong with this bill, just like there is nothing wrong with a pack of shingles at a construction site. If you try to put the shingles on before you pour the foundation, you are doomed to failure. As Governor Henry wisely noted when he signed the bill, the foundation is insurance coverage of autism. Absent that, Senate Bill 135 is doomed to failure.
“The therapists that will be trained under this bill will be unable to make a living in Oklahoma because families still will be unable to afford the applied behavioral analysis therapies they offer – just as they are today. The reason is that there is nothing in Senate Bill 135 that would even remotely help families bear the cost of this critical treatment.
“More than one child per day in Oklahoma is being diagnosed with autism. That means more than one child per day is being lost because they are ‘aging out,’ getting too old for the therapies to reach. Again, this bill does nothing to help those children to day.
“For anyone to suggest that ‘relief is on the way,’ is simply not consistent with the bill. Statements like that are irresponsible and provide only the falsest of hopes to families who are begging lawmakers for real help. Families deserve better than the sham being perpetrated on them by legislators who have neither the courage nor willingness to support ‘Nick’s Law.’”