An emotional decision by the state senate puts more pieces into place to force the insurance industry to cover therapies for those with autism disorders. The movement to force it to do so has been growing since Senator Scott Rupp of Wentzville headed a blue-ribbon study committee on autism in 2007.
Rupp has listened while opponents such as Senator Luann Ridgeway of Smithville claim the forced coverage will make businesses cancel employee’s insurance because of higher premiums. AUDIO: Ridgeway during debate :15 mp3
And he’s heard Senator Chuck Purgason say it makes no sense to pass a bill that will cost the state more money at a time when the state is looking for programs to cut. AUDIO: Purgason argues against bill :31 mp3
But Springfield Senator Norma Champion thinks this is one of those times when it is morally better to place care for autistic children above concerns about slight increases in business insurance rates. AUDIO: Champion debates :24 mp3
Rupp points to a provision saying any small business that sees its employee insurance premiums go up more than 2.5% in a year because of his bill can opt out of providing the coverage. He says his bill is a strong message to the insurance industry. AUDIO: Rupp on the message :13 mp3
The Senate has passed his bill 26-6. The House, where the issue never had a chance for debate last year, has passed a slightly different version 135-18. Plenty of time remains for one or the other version to make it to the Governor.