Parents Continue To Fight For Nick's Law

Friday, May 9th 2008, 7:44 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma parents are continuing their battle against health insurance companies to gain coverage for autistic children.

News On 6 reporter Amy Lester reports parents of autistic children are fighting for Nick's Law.  The legislation would force insurance companies to cover autism treatments. The bill has passed the state Senate four times and is now is now up for a vote in the state House, where representatives are refusing to hear it.

"The concerns and the frustrations we have is we're not having the discussion in the House," Nick's father Wayne Rohde, said.

From one office to the next, parents of autistic children tried to drum up support and get Nick's Law voted on in the state House. They went door-to-door, talking to representatives.

"You've had my support all along, wonderful. There wasn't any doubt about it," Jerry Shoemake, (D-District 16), said.

The parents attempted to hit up every representative, including House leadership. They had no luck with House Speaker Chris Benge, but Speaker Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell invited them into his chambers.

Blackwell said an intern is researching autism for him, and he's going through the bill.

"One of the things we have to look at and be able to address is that there are a lot of mandates out there. The more mandates we make, the more people cannot afford insurance," Blackwell said.

Parents of autistic children agree they cannot afford the hefty cost of treatment. Some pay as much as $5,000 a month for treatments, because insurance companies refuse to cover autism.

"We are desperate. Folks are desperate to get the care and treatment that they need for their children," parent Dee Blose said.

These families plan to make their voices heard every day until the House votes, but time is running out. The state House has less than a month left in session.

Benge said the state House will not hear Nick's Law this session. Some lawmakers insist the cost of health insurance would increase exponentially with the added coverage.

The families plan to continue applying public and political pressure until the legislation passes, even if that takes years.