The Missouri Senate has approved an autism insurance bill that it hopes is ready for quick passage by the House. Sponsor Scott Rupp of Wentzville says the bill incorporates compromises worked out with the House and with the insurance industry.

The measure requires insurance companies to offer coverage for treatment of Autism disorders until the person with the disorder reaches 18. It limits benefits to $45,000 a year for the most popular type of treatment—ABA, or Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Other changes have cut the costs to the state by about two-thirds.

Small employers with group health plans for their employees can ask the state Department of Insurance to be exempted from the program if their premiums increase more than 2.55 in any 12 month period. Rupp says actuarial studies indicate, however, that the premium increases should only be about one-tenth that amount.

The bill approved by the Senate has been approved earlier by the House. Rupp and other supporters hope the compromises made to gain Senate approval will speed approval in the House which listed autism insurance legislation as one of its top priorities when the session began in January.

Listen to debate on the bill 16:53 mp3