Recently, the Oklahoma legislature has shown the full extent of their ability to shock, horrify and astound me. A House committee chaired by Rep. Dan Sullivan used sneaky tactics to shoot down a bill informally titled “Nick’s Law.” In short, the bill would have issued a mandate requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for the early diagnosis testing and medications for the treatment of autism in children.
The bill (HB 1312) was voted on in the Economic Development and Financial Services Committee on February 3rd, 2009. Guess what? It failed. Not one single Republican on the committee voted in favor of the bill. Not one.
And to really put the “compassionate” in “compassionate conservative,” a newly enacted House rule forbids similar legislation from being introduced for two more years. So not only did they shoot it down, but they made sure that they don’t have to hear anything like it until after the next election cycle.
These “family values” champions who voted against the bill relied upon an actuarial study (commissioned by guess who? The Republicans) that stated that the health insurance premium cost increases for the average Oklahoman would be much higher than the studies from reputable sources showing the minimal impact realized by consumers in other states where similar legislation has been enacted. So let me get this straight. Other states have enacted legislation like Nick’s Law and seen minimal impact(+1%) In fact, The Oklahoma State Education Employees Group Insurance Board recently announced its own study revealed that Nick’s law would have 1% or less impact on claims. But in Oklahoma, according to the Republicans’ self-commissioned study, the legislation magically would have seen a more dramatic increase (+7.8%-19.8%)?
Really? You guys can’t beat the bill on its merits, so you rely on some trumped up study (a.k.a. LIE)? And why do I call it a lie? Well, the study commissioned by the Republican leadership was created with the express instructions to perform the analysis based upon an annual cap that was $25,000 HIGHER than the cap actually cited in the bill. Oh, I get it. You don’t like the answers you will get from an honest study, so you just change the parameters to suit your needs. Cute. Really cute.
And damned shameful.
I believe that deep down, my fellow Oklahomans are big-hearted, giving people. However when ideology clouds the judgment, that compassion goes right out the window like a bottle of whiskey when the preacher comes to visit.
Nick’s Law is named after Nick Rohde, 11 years old, who is autistic. Nick’s father Wayne spoke recently with members of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee. He was told that parents of autistic children should band together to do fundraising to help each other out. (I wonder if their families would do that if they were stricken with cancer and insurance did not cover that.)
One brainiac actually said that the costly behavioral therapy involved was unnecessary because of some “cream” that could be placed on an autistic child’s temples. (If there are any snake-oil salesman out there, you might want to look up this person, because apparently he or she will buy anything!)
And the most “compassionate” of these conservatives actually suggested that Wayne move his family to another state where a mandate exists. Yeah, that’s a good idea. And make sure you take your tax dollars with you! Because Lord knows we don’t need any in the Great State of Oklahoma.
Folks, I can honestly say that I did NOT vote for these guys. I voted for one Republican on my ballot and he was not in this committee. I have friends who are Republicans and who are legislators. This, however, has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Just the other day, I was called by the House Republicans for a donation. Not only was their script highly insulting, but I am averse to giving money to those who loudly proclaim to be good Christians and the height of family values and virtue, yet cannot see fit to help out those who cannot help themselves.
Nick’s Law was authored by Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah) and Sen. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant). These two are TRUE champions for what is right. As a citizen of the Great State of Oklahoma, I am proud of them and their efforts.