“You’re only going to hurt the average Oklahoman,” Bill could stop insurance company requirement to cover autism

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Last legislative session, lawmakers voted to require insurance companies to cover kids with autism.

Now, a new bill could put a stop to that.

The bill would allow out-of-state insurance companies to sell policies in Oklahoma, but the companies would be exempt from state mandates.

At Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol, some families were concerned the bill could undo what they fought so hard for.

Fourteen-year-old Jimi Scott had quite the day at the capitol, raising autism awareness.

His mom, Emily Scott, is a fierce advocate for insurance reform.

“Today, at the capitol, I met a lot of new providers that are coming in and providing treatment because, now, they know they can get reimbursed properly and, so, parents and families have options,” Emily said.

Jimi was diagnosed with autism 10 years ago.

Last year, Emily and other parents celebrated when lawmakers passed a bill requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism.

Now, the coverage is in jeopardy.

“This bill will allow out-of-state health carriers to come in and sell bad health insurance plans to individuals in the state of Oklahoma that do not have any mandates in them,” Rep. Collin Walke said.

Walke said SB478 would shake up the health care marketplace.

Out-of-state insurance providers would “not be required to offer or provide state-mandated health benefits required by Oklahoma law.”

The author, Sen. Bill Brown, said the goal is to bring in more providers to the state.

“The reason I’m doing this: we’re trying to lower health care costs and bring in more competition. Right now, Blue Cross and Blue Shield sells 98 percent of health insurance policies in the state of Oklahoma,” Brown said.

Emily said she understands Oklahomans want cheaper insurance but at what cost to those who benefit under the current mandates?

“Applied behavioral analysis is one therapy we had a lot of denials for in Oklahoma and, now, children are able to get that, and it makes such a dramatic difference in their lives,” she said.

“Why in the world would we want to pass a law that unwinds something that helps people? If you undo this, you’re only going to hurt the average Oklahoman, but you’re going to help the insurance companies,” Walke said.

This bill would also affect other medical coverage, like cancer treatment, or any health benefit currently required under the law.

The next stop for the bill is on the House floor.


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