Parents push to expand insurance for children with developmental disabilities

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COLUMBIA - Two mothers in Columbia are pushing to get legislation passed that would require insurance companies to cover therapies such as speech, occupational and physical therapy, for children with developmental delays.

Currently, most insurance companies refuse to cover these therapies and will only cover in cases of rehab situations, like strokes or injuries.
Boone County Family Resources give families with disabled children a budget each year, but once the money is all used up, parents are forced to pay out of pocket.
Robyn Schelp, one of the mothers working to get a bill filed, pays out of pocket thousands of dollars every year.
"We get about $8,000 a year, and about 5,000 of that is used toward therapy. When you look at one year of speech therapy, just going twice a year, it would cost us $6,000-7,000 a year at a realistic and relatively unrealistic place," Schelp said.

One mother, Holly Musik, has a son with major developmental delays and said she supports this push for insurance coverage.

"We do most of Chase's therapy through school, but he also does other physical therapy and horseback riding. After the budget is used up we have to come up with the money," Musik said.

Many children are not getting the therapies they need to learn basic skills - walking, talking, self-help - because the cost for these therapies is often upwards of $100 a session, and many kids need 2-4 sessions each week. 

These parents are working closely with senators and state officials to get things changed. Their hope is that the services for their children will be covered by insurance so they can get the help they need.

The mothers are not just pushing for their own children. Another mother, Jacque Sample, is a pediatric occupational therapist, also has a child with developmental delays and would like to see the law changed.

"I see families seeking services for their loved ones, and they can't get it or can't afford it, or they can only afford an evaluation and not the ongoing therapy. And there is all that potential there for that young person to live independently," Sample said.

The two mothers have not yet found anyone to file their bill, but they will not stop searching.

For more information or to find out how to help, you can visit their Facebook page.