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Mo. Senate passes autism insurance bill


By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation mandating coverage for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders has passed the Missouri Senate.

The bill would require state-regulated insurance plans to provide up to $55,000 a year to cover a form of behavioral treatment for people under age 21 with autism.

Supporters say it would greatly aid families and that the rise in insurance rates would be minimal. It was sponsored by State Senator Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville).

"We're doing our job in the state, the families are doing their job, the schools are doing their job, when, insurance industry, are you going to start doing yours?!" Rupp said, literally shouting from the Senate floor.

But State Senator Luann Ridgeway (R, Smithville) expressed concern over how the bill would impact small business owners.

"To tell you the honest truth, I haven't decided even at this moment how I'm gonna vote on this bill...because my heart goes out for the developmentally disabled, but by heart also goes out for the person who will lose their insurance or lose their job that they desperately need, particularly in these hard economic times," Ridgeway said.

Ridgeway eventually voted "no," along with five other senators.

The bill now goes to the Missouri House, which has already passed its own version of the autism bill. The House bill would only provide up to $36,000 a year in coverage. The two chambers will have to reach a compromise before sending it to Governor Jay Nixon.


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