Michael Carnuccio | August 28, 2015

Free Market Friday: Innovate, don’t mandate

Michael Carnuccio

An important Oklahoma Watch story last week told of special-needs students in our state being handcuffed, paddled, arrested, and more. For example, “In Jenks Public Schools, campus police physically restrained and handcuffed a second-grade special education student. His crime? He ran to the playground to escape a noisy classroom.”

Fortunately, a state program is providing a lifeline for families with students with special needs. The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program allows for Oklahoma students who have received an Individualized Education Plan to allocate most of the government funding for their student to the school that best meets their needs. Many families with students who have autism are using the program and say it’s a lifesaver for their children.

Autism is a complex disorder. Research is constantly evolving, but progress is being made. Those who are challenged by autism suffer across a spectrum. Some with autism have very acute needs and require both educational and at times medical assistance. Others with autism are chiefly challenged in educational development.

Some have called for a broad mandate on health insurance policies to cover autism treatment. Many who desire such a mandate, including the families with autistic students, have pure motives and want the best for those challenged by autism.

Unfortunately, mandates on health insurance policies have grave consequences, including increasing insurance premiums for policies subject to the mandate. Nothing demonstrates the detrimental problems with mandates like the Affordable Care Act. The mandates of the ACA have significantly driven up the cost of health insurance, resulted in rationed care, and eliminated choices for thousands of Oklahomans and millions of Americans.

An additional mandate would have limited positive effects relative to hurting an already volatile health insurance market in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has an opportunity to innovate, create its own solutions to address autism and avoid the perils of mandates. State-specific programs such as education scholarships, high-risk pools, and expanded training for parents and teachers with autistic students are the right solutions.

Oklahomans should rally to make their voices heard and oppose state bureaucrats who are currently trying to overturn the Henry Scholarship program in court.

Those faced with the challenges of autism deserve our cooperation and innovation – not mandates and the assault on programs that already prove effective.

Michael Carnuccio

Former OCPA President

Loading Next