KCUR News
12:32 am
Fri April 24, 2009

Mo. Senate Passes Bill Mandating Autism Coverage

Kansas City, MO – The Missouri Senate has approved legislation mandating insurance companies to cover autism treatments. KCUR's Elana Gordon has more.

The bill specifically requires group health plans to cover up to $55,000 annually for an intensive therapy that pediatricians often recommend for children with autism. Insurance companies say imposing the mandate would drive up premium costs for everyone and result in some people losing coverage. Senator Scott Rupp is the bill's sponsor. He estimates premiums would go up by about one percent, but says it's well worth the tradeoff.

RUPP: "We can cover so many families that are literally going bankrupt, working two to three jobs just to try to get the therapies for their kids. And it's just devastating to the family structure."

The bill now moves to the House, where Speaker Ron Richard has said overall health care affordability is a bigger priority than autism right now. Nine states currently have some type of autism mandate, and about 25 others - including Kansas - have introduced related bills.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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