Autism Speaks | Momentum builds for autism insurance reform in Oklahoma  | Feb. 18, 2016 #AutisticHistory #BanABA


[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

Momentum builds for autism insurance reform in Oklahoma 

February 18, 2016

Oklahoma City, OK— Advocates from across the state joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to push for HB2962 yesterday at the Capitol in Oklahoma City. The recently introduced legislation would require medically based care for individuals with autism Advocates will also be recognized in the House and Senate galleries for their efforts.  

Without the reforms in HB2962, many Oklahomans will continue to face moving to other states to gain access to basic, evidence-based care for their family members with autism. If passed, Oklahoma would join 43 other states, including all states bordering Oklahoma, to pass legislation requiring coverage for individuals with autism.

If you are an Oklahoma resident, please take a moment and ask your legislator to co-sponsor Oklahoma’s autism insurance reform bill.

Momentum for advocates continues to grow after securing 24 co-sponsors. Advocates and lawmakers have both expressed optimism at the growing momentum and collaboration. 

“I think we’re in this pretty healthy mode of give and take so that whatever we come up with doesn’t make a huge increase in insurance premiums or water down the bill to the point it’s not of practical benefit to the families who really need it,” State Rep. Jason Nelson (R) said.

Advocates have also been making their voices heard on Twitter supporting autism insurance reform in Oklahoma. Join the conversation: 

Please support #HB2962, because all children w/ #autism deserve the coverage their doctor prescribes #Ok4autisminsurancereform #AutismVotes

The efforts have attracted significant local attention, including a powerful OpEd in the Journal Record advocating for autism insurance reform and a special report  by Tulsa’s News on 6 which followed the Ryan family meeting with lawmakers and making their voices heard on HB 2962. 

If Charlie had cancer or Cystic Fibrosis he would be able to get a lot of treatment,” parent and autism advocate, Autumn Ryan said in the report. “Now he’s not able to get his basic treatment, he’s not able to get disability because this wasn’t a disability at birth.” Ryan added, “The legislators really need to see what we’re dealing with and how our children need our help.”

Medley: It’s time to broaden autism coverage

By:  Bob Medley  Guest Columnist February 12, 2016 

Bob Medley

How do you feel when you see someone struggling in a daily activity? Most of us would help, whether it’s a child crossing the street or an elderly adult getting into a car. We step up to make a difference.

Most Oklahomans are likely shocked that 5,000 children in our public schools have autism. And only those with the right kind of health insurance receive the basic, life-changing treatments prescribed by their doctors.

What happens when an Oklahoma family receives an autism diagnosis? If they are like my family, they are challenged to access the resources to treat this complex, neurological condition. The anguish a parent or grandparent feels when seeing a child or grandchild locked inside an apparently normal body is truly heartrending.

If they are fortunate enough to work for companies like Home Depot or Wal-Mart, the core symptoms of autism can be addressed head-on. These businesses provide insurance benefits that cover autism. Coverage has also long been provided for our active-duty and retired military families across the state.

The future for these children and their families is dramatically improved. Those who access treatment can gain the ability to speak, gesture and connect to the world around them. Rather than being trapped in their own homes or in expensive institutional settings, evidence-based care can alleviate the frequent repetitive, aggressive and self-injurious behaviors from which many of those with autism suffer. These children have the opportunity to grow into productive members of society.

In contrast, most insurance plans based here do not cover evidence-based treatments for autism. Oklahomans who pay their premiums every month have a chance to join the millions of families nationwide who have autism coverage. House Bill 2962 will change lives in every neighborhood of our state.

Providing coverage also makes sound, economic sense. If children with autism can access medically proven treatments, the core symptoms are much better controlled and the long-term cost of care will decrease.

The human benefits that come with autism treatment cannot be overstated, but the economic benefits seal the case. That’s why I’m among the growing group of Oklahoma residents urging state lawmakers to make that change, as every state that borders Oklahoma has done.

If Oklahoma insurers provided meaningful autism coverage, state taxpayers would save millions in lifetime costs for the current population of kids with autism. All for the investment of about 40 to 50 cents per member per month, which is what actual claims data reflects in multiple plans across the country that have been covering autism for several years.

A bipartisan group of legislators has come together to provide an Oklahoma-specific solution this legislative session. HB 2962 would simply require state-regulated plans to cover evidence-based treatments like speech, occupational, physical and behavior therapy when prescribed by a licensed physician and determined to be medically necessary.

This treatment is provided at a different level of intensity than special education services provided in school by our hardworking teachers. There the goal is to accommodate students, helping them to access the curriculum. Research shows that these taxpayer-funded services can be eliminated or dramatically reduced when children receive the medically necessary treatment provided in HB 2962.

It’s time for Oklahoma lawmakers to step up and pursue a fiscally conservative solution to the short-term and long-term cost of treating autism. The answer is to require Oklahoma health insurers to cover medically necessary care for autism. The answer is to support and pass HB 2962. Please contact your representative and senator and encourage them to step up.

Bob Medley is with Medley/Turrentine & Associates, an independent insurance agency.

The Autism Community Is Not The Autistic Community

* The “autism community” is not the Autistic Community. The autism community was created by non-Autistic led organizations and includes mostly parents, professionals and their friends. Most of what the world knows about autism is sourced from the non-Autistic “autism community.”


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

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