Ex-NBA player scores victory with Kentucky bill to expand coverage for stuttering treatment

Apr 11, 2024, 12:42 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Former basketball star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored a victory Thursday as a leading advocate for a new Kentucky law that will expand insurance coverage for people seeking treatment for stuttering.

Kidd-Gilchrist, who played on a national championship team at the University of Kentucky and spent several years playing in the NBA, opened up about his own struggles with stuttering.

He appeared before Kentucky lawmakers to endorse the bill, which sailed through the Republican-dominated legislature and was signed by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

At a bill signing ceremony Thursday, Kidd-Gilchrist spoke about the accomplishment he hopes will have a lasting impact for others striving to overcome speech difficulties.

“I weathered the storm of being picked on, teased and such like that,” he said. “I just want to thank you guys — just being heard at this magnitude. I’m not just a national champion here anymore. I’m a person who made a real impact in this state. I want to thank you guys for the opportunity.”

Speech therapy is the mainstay of stuttering treatment. Globally, 70 million people stutter and President Joe Biden has spoken publicly about being mocked by classmates and a nun in Catholic school for his own speech impediment. He said overcoming it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

On Thursday, Beshear praised the Kentucky bill — Senate Bill 111 — that will require insurers to cover speech therapy costs to treat stuttering.

“Speech therapy can make a world of difference and now everyone is going to be able to have that coverage,” the governor said.

During a Kentucky Senate debate on the bill last month, Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield spoke about the obstacles many people face in getting the treatment they need.

“There are a lot of Kentuckians … who either don’t have coverage, have coverage and it’s limited by these arbitrary caps — say 20 visit therapy sessions and that’s it — regardless of what your need is,” he said. “You might need 10 times that many. But you can’t get it.”

Westerfield, the bill’s sponsor, on Thursday gave the credit to Kidd-Gilchrist for the bill’s success.

“It’s his story and he’s the reason this bill is here,” Westerfield said.

In a recent op-ed, Kidd-Gilchrist pointed to his ties to Kentucky and his efforts to help other people struggling with stuttering. He wrote that he’s traveled the Bluegrass State to “hear testimonies” from people who stutter and advocate on their behalf.

“I am pushing myself to use the very thing that can be a struggle — my voice — to speak up for the community I represent and whose voices often go unheard,” he said.

“A primary obstacle to treatment for those who stutter is the way that insurance coverage is structured for this condition,” he added.

National News

Associated Press

More severe weather forecast in Midwest as Iowa residents clean up tornado damage

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — The skies were blue and the wind was blowing as residents of the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, worked to clean up two days after a destructive tornado ripped apart more than 100 homes in just one minute, took the lives of four residents and injured at least 35 more. All […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Ohio governor calls special session to pass legislation ensuring President Biden is on 2024 ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that he is calling a special session of the General Assembly next week to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden is on the state’s 2024 ballot. “Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting President of the United States, on […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. California’s law is meant to circumvent an Arizona law — first passed in 1864 — that bans nearly all abortions in that state. The Arizona Supreme Court had ruled that […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge says $475,000 award in New Hampshire youth center abuse case would be ‘miscarriage of justice’

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The judge who oversaw a landmark trial over abuse at New Hampshire’s youth detention center says capping the verdict at $475,000 as the state proposes would be an “unconscionable miscarriage of justice.” In a lengthy order issued Wednesday, Judge Andrew Schulman outlined five options for addressing the dispute that arose after […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Those who helped file voting fraud allegations are protected from suit, North Carolina justices say

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who assisted voters with submitting some 2016 ballot complaints, saying the fraud allegations they helped make were broadly protected within the protest process. The 5-0 ruling overturns the decision of a lower appeals court that determined only […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son. Authorities say the boy was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment […]

11 hours ago

Ex-NBA player scores victory with Kentucky bill to expand coverage for stuttering treatment