When Stephen Schmitt was two years old, the state senate formed a special blue ribbon committee to look into the reasons the insurance industry did not provide coverage for treatments for people with that disorder. When Stephen was three the insurance industry was blamed for killing an autism insurance mandate bill in the legislature. When Stephen was four, his father was elected to the State Senate. He was still four when an autism mandate bill died in the House last year.

Now five, soon to be six, Stephen has seen his father, Senator Eric Schimitt of Kirkwood, help negotiate the compromise bill that forces insurance companies to offer coverage to families like his. Schmitt hopes the day will come when children not yet born meet lawmakers who voted for the final version of the bill today…and thank them for what they have done.

Backers of autism mandate bills in the last three legislative sessions say autism is the only one of the top twelve neurbiological disorders that insurance companies refused to cover. The bill requires insurance companies to offer to cover up to $40,000 a year in treatment costs for those with autism disorders until they reach 18. It also contains a provision that small businesses can ask the insurance department to excuse them from providing autism coverage for employees if their premiums increase substantially. Backers of the legislation say the bill should increase premiums incrementally, about one-fourth of one percent.

Next stop:  the Governor’s office for his signature.

AUDIO: Sen. Schmitt’s tribute to his son 15 min
Audio begins with Sen. Rupp bringing bill up for debate.