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Blunt Revamps Plans for 'First Steps' Program

Governor Matt Blunt.

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is proposing revamping the First Steps program rather than eliminating it.

The Republican says his plan would require insurance companies to pay up to nine-thousand dollars per policy over three years to the state for children with developmental needs.

"I think insurance provided in our state ought to cover health care needs and certainly the types of programs we're saying they ought to fund are related to health care," Blunt said. "So I think it's a legitimate requirement for insurance companies in our state."

Leslie Berry's daughter was in the First Steps program for two years and says she's glad the program is off the chopping block.

But Berry says the governor may be too optimistic about insurance companies' willingness to cover developmental disabilities.

"I'm hoping he can make that happen and insurance will change their mind on that but I'm not so certain it will be as easy as he thinks," Berry said.

She says her own insurance company only would have covered her daughter's therapy if she had been in an accident or had a stroke.

Blunt's plan, which he says has support from two legislative leaders, would also require co-payments from families well above the poverty level.

He says the restructuring will save the state two million dollars next fiscal year.


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