By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Senate Democrats are criticizing Republicans for failing to act on bills they said would help children and families in our state. State Democrats are charging the new Republican majority with protecting the interests of insurance companies, at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Senate Democrats said numerous bills that would help ordinary Oklahomans, bills like Nick's Law to require coverage for treatment of autism, have been killed by the GOP this session. Many of them never even went to a vote.
The author of Nick's Law joined other Democrats at a news conference Thursday afternoon, and said, while Republicans try to sweep proposed solutions under the carpet, the problem doesn't go away.
"There are children we are losing every single day that we delay, who will never be able to be brought out of the shadows of autism, because we continue to debate and delay in this capitol." Democratic Sen. Jay Paul Gumm said. "For whatever reason, the House of Representatives in this state, and now, to some degree, the Republicans in the Senate, can't live up to their pro-family rhetoric."
House leaders said they are pro-family. Legislation to increase the number of qualified autism service providers will help families. What won't help them, they said, is mandating a new insurance benefit.
"Whenever insurance mandates are enacted, and those cost increases are incurred, the insurance companies don't bear those costs. The insurance companies absolutely do not bear those costs, policy holders bear those costs. You and I and anyone who has an insurance policy will be the one to pay the higher costs, and so to say that we're carrying water for the insurance companies, is just absolutely bogus to me," House Speaker Chris Benge said.
Republican leaders said they are trying to look out for the interests of all Oklahomans, and said legislating a new insurance benefit will just push health care costs up for everyone.