A measure to help families who have children with developmental disabilities foot their bills is stalled in the Missouri legislature.
The bill would’ve called for the state to provide for financial assistance after insurance coverage topped out, which is typically 20 visits.
House Republican Chuck Bayse of Rocheport, who sponsored the measure, says he was touched by a family with a boy who has multiple needs
“He requires three to four different types of therapies a week – speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy” said Bayse. “If you can imagine, once they meet their deductible, three or four visits a week, your twenty visits are up pretty quickly.”
Although the bill received a warm reception in committee, there were two major stumbling blocks. First, the cost.
An office inside the capitol in Jefferson City analyzes each bill and determines its monetary impact. In this case, the line item read “Unknown greater than $1,000,000”, which raised eyebrows in a committee hearing.
In addition to the unknown, but thought to be exorbitant cost, the insurance industry presented strong opposition due to the unknown impact on rates.
Bayse said “I sure don’t want insurance premiums to spike on everybody, so that’s why we need to narrow this down and try to figure out how many people are affected. It might lower that number a little bit to make it a little more manageable.”
There’s an insurance gap for children with developmental disabilities, although those with autism generally have more adequate coverage.
Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) carried similar legislation in the upper chamber this year. Bayse thinks Rowden will want to pursue the measure again next year in the legislature.
He says he’s also been told that State Treasurer Eric Schmitt, who has an autistic son, would be happy to testify in favor of the need for developmentally disabled children to receive coverage.
Currently, the University of Missouri in Columbia offer extensive subsidized care for developmentally disabled children. But Bayse says families who don’t live in the mid-Missouri area, or have transportation issues, are unable to take advantage of those facilities.
Bayse, who’s retired, plans to work with the insurance industry and other interested parties to find a path forward for the legislation, and reintroduce it again next year.