Mom says Missouri's insurance law desperately needs to expand

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COLUMBIA - St. Sen. Denny Hoskins pre-filed Senate bill 45 in efforts to expand Missouri's current insurance mandate.

Right now only children with autism receive financial support for all their therapy treatments. SB 45 would require insurance companies to cover therapies for children with other developmental disabilities as well, not just those diagnosed with autism.

Missouri Disability Empowerment, or MoDE, has been fighting for this legislation since 2016. Molly Myers, the non-profit's membership chair, has been with the group since their formation, but has more recently become much more involved.

Myers said the best way to create awareness is to talk with as many senators and representatives as possible about this need.

“This was the first time that I had a mom with her children that were not part of any political group or organization come up and lobby on behalf of themselves and their kids. It was a very touching, heartwarming story, just to see all of the different things that they have done just to try and get their kids the therapy they need,” Sen. Hoskins said. 

Right now, Myers said she and her family pay for the majority of sessions out of pocket because her insurance will only cover 20 therapy sessions. For her son Will, who has partial genesis corpus colosseum, multiple sessions are needed each week.

Even at the lower ranges of $100 per session, the bills add up quickly, Myers said.

The bill would require insurance companies to cover physical, occupational, speech and Applied Behavior Analysis therapies for kids based on their level of need.

“I think in the grand scheme of things, it would actually save costs because when you get to these children earlier and they receive the necessary therapy that they need, they can lead a better life," Sen. Hoskins said.

To Myers and her family, the benefits by far outweigh the costs. 

“It all comes down to what the insurance company deems necessary, and to us, that’s really hard because there is no medicine that is going to grow Will’s brain. And so we are at the mercy of therapy,” Myers said.

Though the bill would force insurance companies to provide therapy to a larger group of kids who need it, Myers clarifies that the therapy would not be given out for free.

While legislation was recently pre-filed in the senate, Rep. Chuck Basye is also drafting a similar bill in the house according to MoDE's President, Robyn Schelp. 

“We are thrilled that immediately we’ve got both sides carrying it right away, and that for Senator Hoskins, it’s a priority of his,” Myers said.