Nick’s Law Deserves Yes Vote

Jay Paul Gumm

Legislation Helps Autistic Children

State legislators should pass Nick’s Law, which would require health insurance companies provide coverage for people with autism.

State Rep. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant), pictured right, has attached the legislation to different Senate bills as amendments, according to media reports. Those bills are expected to be voted on this week. State Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) and state Rep. Colby Schwartz (R-El Reno) are also sponsors of the legislation.

“Research shows us that early intervention is the key giving these children the best chance of fulfilling their God-given potential,” Gumm said on the state Senate Web site. “Health insurance exists for challenges like this. No insured family should ever have to doubt whether they will get the help they expected when they bought insurance.”

The law is named after Nick Rhode, the 10-year-old son of Wayne Rhode, who has been pushing the legislation in recent weeks.

Another bill pending in the state Senate, Steffanie’s Law, which is sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), would require health insurance companies to cover routine care costs during clinical trial treatments. It was recently approved by a Senate committee. This bill also deserves support.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma House recently voted 53-46 in favor of a bill that places certain restrictions on health insurance mandates. This could lead to a showdown in the House if either bill is passed by the Senate.

Rice Veterans' Bill Passes Senate

A bill that would help uninsured veterans was passed in a 45-1 vote Monday by the Oklahoma Senate. The bill is sponsored by Rice, who continues to push for health care reform.

Under Rice’s bill, veterans would pay health insurance premiums and co-payments based on household income under a program administered by the state. The program would start July 1, 2009.

“For those who believe that our state cannot afford to help our uninsured veterans, I ask them to examine the unfairness in their belief,” Rice said. “I don’t think any of these veterans, when they were ordered into battle, looked at their commander and said: ‘how much is it going to cost me?’.”

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.