Autism Coverage Fight Continues

Imahe of Kandinsky painting

A proposed legislative bill would allow Oklahoma voters to decide if insurance companies should cover treatments for autism.

State Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah) has filed House Joint Resolution 1068, which if approved, would ask voters to add this amendment to the state constitution: “Any health insurance provider offering comprehensive coverage within the State of Oklahoma shall provide coverage for neurobiological disorders such as autism.”

The issue of providing coverage for autism has been a contentious one. Last year, Republicans killed “Nick’s Law,” a bill named for an Edmond youth with autism. His father, Wayne Rohde, and some legislators, had pushed for the legislation. But the bill was killed in a legislative committee.

Requiring insurance companies to cover autism is the right thing to do and some states already require such coverage.

The state GOP leadership argues this mandate could sharply increase overall insurance costs, but that’s not true. That argument is simply a distorted projection. Those who support coverage for autism argue that the increase costs would be minimal, which has been the case in other states.

Here’s a decent report on the cost issue.

Will the Republican leadership oppose Brown’s resolution? If the resolution passes, will the vested interests—primarily the health insurance industry—throw a lot of money into an election fight in order to deny coverage for those who suffer from autism?