Bill on more insurance coverage for children with disabilities advances

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers took another step forward Tuesday on a House bill that makes Missouri's insurance law more inclusive for children with disabilities.

They approved the terminology on a measure to expand insurance coverage of therapies for children with autism to include children with developmental disabilities or physical disabilities.

Robyn Schelp, Christina Ingoglia and Molly Myers started an organization called MoDE, Missouri Disability Empowerment, in part to push the bill.

Schelp even registered as a lobbyist for this session.

The bill would make insurance companies legally bound to providing coverage for therapies deemed necessary by a health care provider for a certain child, to a certain extent.

The sponsor, Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, said the measure would not affect the state budget and would cost insurance companies no more than 39 cents per member, per month.

During discussion on the floor, Basye said he and others who worked on the bill were able to reach an agreement with insurance lobbyists who testified against the bill in committee.

"I can't say they oppose it, but they are ready to support it," he said.

Mothers in support of the bill took their children with disabilities to see lawmakers several times.

Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, said, "The biggest missing, if we get this across the finish line in the other chamber, is we won't be visited by those special people."

Schelp, who was listening to the discussion in the upper gallery of the House, said that was sweet of Lavender to say. But Schelp said she and her family will be back, even if it's just to give high fives to all the friends they have made.

"This has been such a long process," Schelp said. "It's just humbling that so many people worked on it and cared about our kids."

A similar bill sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, was projected to be heard on the Senate floor Tuesday as well.

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