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Calls to Action

Missouri State Legislature Passes Autism Insurance Reform Legislation

May 12, 2010

NEW YORK, NY (May 12, 2010) -- Autism Speaks joined Missouri families, the Missouri Autism Coalition, and other autism organizations today in applauding the members of the State Legislature for their passage of House Bill 1311, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, including behavioral health treatment such as applied behavior analysis. The bill now heads to the Governor Nixon’s desk to be signed into law.
The final version of HB 1311 includes coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA) for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) up to $40,000 per year, or more if medically necessary, through age 18. Insurance coverage for non-ABA therapies is not subject to age limits or monetary caps. Insurers cannot impose visit limits on any coverage under the bill, other than the dollar cap on ABA.
“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Missouri legislature for their passing of House Bill 1311, thereby extending a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We also thank Governor Nixon for his continued support of this bill throughout the legislative process. We look forward to his swift enactment of HB 1311 and for Missouri to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”
HB 1311 was sponsored in the House by Representative Dwight Scharnhorst and combined with a bill (HB 1341) that was sponsored by Representative Jason Grill. A companion bill, SB 618, was originally introduced in the Senate and sponsored by Senator Scott Rupp.
“Today we made significant improvements for the lives of families dealing with autism,” said Senator Rupp. “Missouri's law now provides coverage for the therapies that get results. The people spoke, the legislature listened and our communities and families benefited. This is the way the system is supposed to work. Today we continued to make Missouri a leader for autism research, treatment and advocacy.”
“Today is an important day for all families affected by autism in Missouri,” said Representative Scharnhorst. “Passage of this bill transcended politics, putting families and children first. Missouri should be very proud to have one of the most comprehensive bills in the country.”
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary treatments. Nineteen states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. A bill in Vermont has been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
“Today, the State of Missouri took a major step forward for children with autism and their families,” said Governor Nixon. “This legislation ensures that Missourians have access to life-changing autism therapies, and it will position our state as a national leader in the developmental and behavioral sciences. I appreciate the dedicated leaders on both sides of the aisle who crafted this bill and moved it to my desk. By passing this landmark legislation, we’ll turn on the light for thousands of children with autism and help them achieve their full potential.”
The local autism community, including parents, grandparents, advocates, and local organizations, was instrumental in getting HB 1311 passed. Throughout the process they met with legislators frequently, reached out to them via phone and email, and attended hearings at the state capitol.
"I am thrilled with passage of HB 1311 and the commencement of coverage of the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Missouri,” said Bill Bolster, father of a child with autism and Autism Speaks Missouri Chapter Advocacy Chair. “More importantly, the work that led to passage of HB 1311 over three years brought the autism community in Missouri together in a way that will last and grow in the future for the benefit of people and families touched by autism in Missouri."