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Mo. Senate passes revised autism bill

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – A revised bill that would require insurance companies to cover some of the cost of therapy for children with autism has passed the Missouri Senate.

It would require health insurance companies to cover up to $45,000 per year for kids with autism age 18 and younger. That's $10,000 less than the Senate's original bill, and those age 19 and 20 would not be eligible.

Both bills were sponsored by State Senator Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville).

"This is a compromise version, as best as we could get, with some people in the insurance industry and the autism community," Rupp said. "There are still a lot of House members and (a) lot of insurance companies that don't want a bill, so they're not on board."

Meanwhile, State Representative Kevin Wilson (R, Neosho), the bill's House handler, says his chamber will hold to the original House proposal, which only provides up to $36,000 a year in coverage.

"The House position has been very firm, and that's what we're sticking to, and I'm still very firm that we have to have licensing and registration (of therapy providers), and if that's not in the bill, as far as I'm concerned, it's a non-starter over here," Wilson said.

The insurance coverage would only apply to a therapy called "applied behavioral analysis," which some parents of children with autism say produces dramatic improvements.

Both sides have one week to come to an agreement, or the bill is dead for another year.