Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Missouri Compromise autism-insurance bill gets OK in Senate committee

JEFFERSON CITY | A Missouri Senate committee on Tuesday split the difference between House and Senate versions of legislation mandating insurance coverage for children with autism.

The new compromise requires state-regulated health insurers -- about 40 percent of the market -- to cover autism spectrum disorders, including providing expensive behavioral treatment.

It caps annual spending on that treatment at $45,000, midway between the $36,000 and $55,000 caps found in versions of the measure passed by the House and Senate, respectively. It also provides coverage through age 18.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, moving it to the Senate floor for debate.

The bill has been identified as a top priority for House and Senate leadership, as well as Gov. Jay Nixon. After some early momentum, however, its progress has slowed lately. Tuesday's vote was the first action on the issue in over a month.

The Senate's initial version of the bill is in the House and ready for consideration by a committee, although that committee's chairman said today he wasn't sure when it would be heard.

The session ends May 14

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