The state Senate has moved the autism insurance mandate bill into position for passage.

The bill requires insurance companies to offer coverage for autism disorders therapy. Sponsor Scott Rupp of Wentzville says a protection is in the bill for small businesses: If businesses of fewer than fifty employees see insurance premiums go up more than 2.5 percent in any calendar year because of autism therapy coverage, they can seek an exemption from the Department of Insurance so they do not have to provide that coverage.

But Rupp says studies in other states with similar mandates indicate premiums go up less than one percent per year.

Problems pinpointed in yesterday’s debate that questioned whether children in Medicaid families could have access to the therapies have been worked out.

Another favorable vote sends the bill to the House. It will be the first bill approved by the Senate this year. A similar bill–but lacking the small business exemption–was approved by the Senate 29-2 last year but was never allowed to reach the House for debate. House Speaker Ron Richard says autism legislation is a House priority this year.

The bill is SB618