Oklahoma lawmakers are fighting to help children on the autism spectrum. Rep. Jason Nelson authored a bipartisan bill to mandate insurance companies cover treatment and diagnosis costs. Oklahoma is only one of seven states that do not require insurance companies to help with autism treatment and medication costs. Many families here in Oklahoma hope we won't be the last state to require it.A.J. Griffin is sponsoring the legislation in the state senate.
Rep. Nelson said revisiting because our state has been here before. In 2008 a similar bill deemed "Nick's Law" was proposed, named after Nick Rhode. His family also fought hard for their son on the autism spectrum, but the bill was never even heard. The Rhode family ultimately left the state because caring for Nick cost too much. Rep. Nelson thinks the issues the legislature had with the bill then, have now been fixed.
"The bill is different than it was and I think the approach is different than it was then," he said.
In the last eight years, many other states have passed autism insurance laws. They found the requirement impacted insurance premiums by only 31-46 cents per member per month. That amount is far below the estimates lawmakers had in 2008.Lacey Lett reports at KFOR-TV:
"We're not asking for any special treatment, just equal treatment that other states have already passed," said Tara Hood, an advocate.
Forty-three other states passed similar autism reform legislation.
Hood is hoping Oklahoma will be next on the list.
"If my daughter had a different diagnosis of ADHD, it would be covered. I'm not sure why autism is excluded," Hood said.More from Autism Speaks