Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst

Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst

A state representative reaps the reward of years of hard work, work that he hopes will benefit children suffering from autism disorders as well as their families.

He came close a year ago, but fell short.

This year, Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst (R-Manchester) succeeded in shepherding autism coverage through the legislative session.

“I feel a humble satisfaction,” Scharnhorst says. “I’ve got a lot more to do is why. I don’t want to go up to high or down too low.”

Scharnhorst says he knew the legislation would pass, eventually.

“And it’s not enough. I will admit, there are a lot of children out there guys (who) aren’t covered by this,” according to Scharnhorst.

Just shy of a third of Missouri children with autism disorders will be covered by CCS SCS HCS HB 1311 & 1341. The legislation will require that insurance companies licensed by the state provide coverage for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. It caps the payments for applied behavior analysis at $40,000 per year, indexed to inflation. The legislation exempts MO HealthNet, the state Medicaid program.

Rep. Scharnhorst lobbies for autism bill

Rep. Scharnhorst lobbies for autism bill

Some call it a mandate. Scharnhorst calls it a matter of fairness.

“If we’re going to insure people through bad lifestyle choices, through excessive alcohol abuse, tobacco and diet that require by-passes and transplants; if we’re going to pay for those people who knowingly abuse the system then, my God, how can we turn away these people?”

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]