By Kodey Toney
In the ongoing saga of HB2962, the Autism Insurance Reform bill, the bill passed the house floor last week with a vote of 76-20. This was a huge step in helping families in Oklahoma who have a loved one on the autism spectrum. But there is still a ways to go.
The bill passed relatively easy through the house, but not without opposition. I know that the representative that debated the bill was only playing devil's advocate, but I feel that his argument was weak. While Rep. Jason Nelson did a great job with his rebuttal, and I admit I know very little about politics, I wanted to point out a few flaws that were missed.
The gentleman, who I will leave unnamed because I'm sure he was just doing what he felt was right, made a comment along the lines that, and I'm paraphrasing, "We can't force insurance companies and business owners to provide services. We have an obesity problem, but we wouldn't make the local Quick Trip only carry organic or healthy foods. There are many head injuries caused by bike wrecks, but we wouldn't force bicycle manufacturers to put training wheels on all bikes."
While I admire his effort it is completely unrelated to autism insurance reform. What we are really talking about is discrimination. We are not talking about something that is controllable. Obesity and head injuries are, though difficult, controllable. We can eat healthy, exercise, wear helmets, attach our own training wheels, and avoid those things (I'm only comparing these because he did).
Autism us uncontrollable. By that I mean, our children did not do anything to inflict this upon themselves. It's not something that happened because of an injury. It is a disorder that just happens. We don't know why.
It is also something that the insurance companies already cover in 43 other states, and could easily cover here, but because they don't have to they will save a little money at the expense of your child's future.
If it were 60 years ago, we would be talking about not allowing insurance based on the color of someone's skin. This is something a person can't change. It's something they are born with, the same as autism.
We are looking at a civil rights battle here; a discrimination issue.
Understand something, with the change in the bill to only allow services up to nine years of age (it's a little more complicated than that, so read up on it), my son will not even be covered. He will unfortunately fall through the cracks of this bill, but I'm still pushing for it anyway because it will help so many others.
I sent emails to all 101 representatives telling Konner's story, and I plan to send 48 more to each senator in the state. I encourage everyone to do the same. At the very least contact your local senator and tell them your story.
This is not about controlling businesses. This is about standing up for the rights of people in Oklahoma!