Oklahoma Bill to help get autism covered by insurance

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TUWD
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11 Apr 2008, 10:24 pm

I'm not sure how many are aware of what is going on in Oklahoma. We have some house members working with parents of autistic children to get a bill through to try and get insurance coverage extended to cover autism. The problem is a certain representive is not allowing them to speak. This article references their effort on Wednesday. They tried again today and were again "not recognized".

There are obviously bigger issues here but the fact it involves autism and is in my state has sparked me into some action.

Here is the Tulsa World article followed by my email to Rep Peterson.



House panel blocks autism bill

By MICK HINTON World Capitol Bureau
4/10/2008

Backers cry foul over GOP tactics

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Parents crowded into a committee meeting Wednesday to express their support for "Nick's Law," which would force insurance companies to provide health coverage for autistic children.

But no one was allowed to speak.

The parents blamed Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, chairman of the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee, for blocking the legis lation from being heard.

Peterson has been an outspoken critic of the legislation because he said it would raise the insurance premiums of all policy holders at a time when rising medical costs are the No. 1 concern of Oklahomans.

Democratic members of the committee vocally protested when a Republican member made a motion that effectively cut off debate on adding an amendment to provide health coverage for autism to another bill.

"It was orchestrated and I'm ashamed and, more importantly, the Republicans should be embarrassed for running a disgusting meeting," said Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

"Nick's Law" was named for the son of Wayne and Robyne Rohde of Edmond, who have been trying for two years to get health insurance coverage for autistic children.

"This is a pathetic move by the chairman," Wayne Rhode said. "He's protecting the insurance lobby instead of children."

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, author of "Nick's Law," said 18 states have approved coverage of autistic children. He said the state of Indiana has provided data showing it has raised costs less than 1 percent.

Peterson provided figures Wednesday indicating that adding such coverage to state-offered insurance policies would cost about $6 million annually.

Gumm, D-Durant, asked, "Why are they afraid to hear this bill?"

He said that if the bill were allowed to go the House floor, it would have the over whelming support of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

On Monday, about 75 supporters of another bill, "Steffanie's Law," protested on the Capitol steps because Peterson would not hear their measure.

It would require insurance companies to continue providing coverage to people who elect to undergo cancer trials. It was named for 18-year-old Steffanie Collings who died March 13. Her family said they have amassed medical bills for about $450,000.

Peterson has opposed hearing these bills until a better procedure can be set up to consider any legislation that mandates insurance compa nies to provide specific coverage.

Earlier this session, he won House passage of House Bill 3111, which would limit consideration of these bills to every other year. But the Senate refused to hear the bill.

Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shaw nee, said he thinks it is possible that this session some kind of compromise bill could be heard, which would contain some of the legislation that Peterson wants.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mick Hinton (405) 528-2465
[email protected]


Here is my email to the representive:
To: [email protected]


Mr. Peterson,

I will keep this quick and simple as I know you are busy.

My 5 year old son has Aspergers Syndrome which is considered “high functioning autism”. Our family is fortunate that he does not require any medication and made it though occupational therapy quickly. But, he has utilized speech/play therapy and/or light psychotherapy since his diagnoses at age 2 ½. He attended standard preschool and currently attends public kindergarten and is doing very well. His main issues are creativity/imagination and “getting it” when it comes to social cues and engaging and playing with other kids.

Again, we are fortunate enough that we can afford the $300-$400 a month in therapy for him since three different insurance companies have refused to pay because the diagnosis is autism. I was told by one company to get a new diagnosis and they would pay but that meant asking our therapist and us to lie to save money. Yes, we could have done that, but chose not to.

I guess I don’t understand why speech therapy can be covered if my son pronounces “th” as “ff” but not if my son has difficulty putting his thoughts into words. Especially when speech therapy has worked wonders for him in this and other areas.

I also feel that there are constitutional issues with you not allowing these parents to speak but I was not there and only know what was said on the news and in the paper. I am not involved with any “group” and I’m not looking for handouts. I am just a concerned citizen whose son has autism and has fought the fight with the insurance companies and lost because there are very, very, few insurance approved treatments for autism.

I hope you re-consider this bill and allow these parents to speak.
It may cost us more today, but sometimes spending a couple of dollars today can save us several dollars on down the line.

Thank you for your time.



Last edited by TUWD on 14 Apr 2008, 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanyonWind
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12 Apr 2008, 1:39 am

When I saw the title, I thought there was a cowboy named Oklahoma Bill who had become an autism activist.


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oblio
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12 Apr 2008, 2:38 am

yep,

who's oklahoma bill anyway?

btw, wouldn't this be better threaded in the auti-politics forum?


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DW_a_mom
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12 Apr 2008, 1:10 pm

I liked your letter. It provided a clear example of what you are asking for.

My question about the proposed legislation in general, as I was reading, was specifically what is not being covered, and that the parents are asking to be covered. Given that I'm not in favor of many treatments that I consider snake oil in the first place, I'm not going to be in favor of insurance companies being forced to cover them. But I AM in favor of counseling, speech, OT and the like.

Just FYI, speech is covered in my state through the public school system. I would understand insurance companies saying they aren't going to cover something IF they can fairly say it will be provided by someone else. But not just becasue they have decided to exclude everything having to do with autism.

Another argument to make is that paying certain costs upfront saves more long run. Helping our children become self-sufficient is simply in the best interests of society. Socity cannot afford NOT to try.


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TUWD
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14 Apr 2008, 11:44 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
I liked your letter. It provided a clear example of what you are asking for.

My question about the proposed legislation in general, as I was reading, was specifically what is not being covered, and that the parents are asking to be covered. Given that I'm not in favor of many treatments that I consider snake oil in the first place, I'm not going to be in favor of insurance companies being forced to cover them. But I AM in favor of counseling, speech, OT and the like.

Just FYI, speech is covered in my state through the public school system. I would understand insurance companies saying they aren't going to cover something IF they can fairly say it will be provided by someone else. But not just becasue they have decided to exclude everything having to do with autism.

Another argument to make is that paying certain costs upfront saves more long run. Helping our children become self-sufficient is simply in the best interests of society. Socity cannot afford NOT to try.


Thanks.

Speech in schools is covered in Oklahoma. My son is eligible for 30 minutes a week.

I agree with the snake oil "treatments." I think if some of the basic "proven" therapies, like Occupational, Speech, Play(a difficult one to prove), and maybe phyiscal were covered it would help out tremendously.