Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lawmakers Make Second Attempt on Autism Coverage

Three Republican lawmakers joined Gov. Jay Nixon Thursday in support of legislation that would force insurance companies to cover therapies for children with autism.


State Sen. Scott Rupp joined Sen. Eric Schmitt, who has an autistic son, and Rep. Jeff Grisamore in touting legislation that would provide coverage to a "reasonable limit of $72,000," and ban insurance companies from refusing or restricting coverage.

The lawmakers pledged to take up the issue within the first two months of the legislative session.
House Speaker Ron Richard, who held a conference call Wednesday, pledged to bring the legislation to the floor this session. Last year, some blamed the House for failing to push a similar bill through.

"Ron just didn't have the votes (last year)," said Richard spokeswoman Kristen Blanchard. "Publicly legislators were telling people they'd vote for it, but behind closed doors they were saying they couldn't. The Speaker wants everyone to be able to have their input on the bill," she added.

"We know that 1 in 100 kids are being diagnosed. And we know that 1 in 58 boys born today will be diagnosed," said Sen. Schmitt.

"As many of us know autism is one of 12 major neurological disorders and the only one of those twelve that's excluded from coverage by insurance carriers. We believe that is grossly discriminatory and a civil rights issue," said Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R-Lee’s Summit)

CORRECTION: In the Ky3 News @ 10 story, we inadvertently misidentified Rep. Jeff Grisamore. The Notebook regrets the error.

But Rep. Kevin Wilson tells The Notebook that there are still significant concerns about balancing the legislation so the mandate isn't an overwhelming burden on small businesses.
"It's not just me, other legislators and small businesses are concerned about rising premiums that a mandate could cause," Wilson said. "This is another mandated benefit and just like any other mandate, there is a certain amount of cost to require companies to provide that coverage. And the smaller the group, the larger the impact," he added.

Read the House bill HERE; The Senate bill is HERE

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