A Missouri state representative is pledging to work for all his constituents, even those who opposed him.

State Rep. Chuck Basye speaks on the Missouri House floor in February 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Republican Chuck Basye of Rocheport, who serves an area near Democratic-leaning Columbia in mid-Missouri, says it’s a privilege to represent his district.  “It’s an honor to serve in the Missouri General Assembly,” said Basye.  “I know that you can’t please everybody.  There are quite a few people that didn’t vote for me, but I am going to advocate for them the best that I can.”

Basye says he’ll listen to all his constituents.  “I represent everybody in the district, not just the people that are for me and voted for me.  I think that’s very, very important.”

The former air traffic controller was elected to a third term with 57% of his district’s vote.  Republicans in large swaths of rural Missouri often receive 60%-to-80% of the ballots cast.  Meanwhile, Democrat Martha Stevens garnered 65% of the ballots cast in Basye’s neighboring 46th District which encompasses much of Columbia.  Democrat Kip Kendrick of Columbia ran unopposed in the 45th District taking 100% of the vote.

Like much of the country, Missouri has a sharp voting divide between conservative, Republican rural areas and more progressive, Democrat-leaning urban districts.  Republicans hold supermajorities in both the Missouri House and Senate, but Democrats in the House who ran unopposed in the November election outnumbered uncontested Republicans 20-16.

Basye has several pieces of legislation he’s revisiting for the 2019 legislative calendar.  He’ll try for a third straight year to provide insurance coverage for developmentally disabled individuals outside the autism spectrum that have none.  “I think we’ll get that further,” said Basye.  “I’m not going to say it’s going to pass, but I’m going to work very hard on that.  It’s something that’s become very near and dear to me.  I’ve met a lot of these children.  They’re very, very special.  I want to try and get them some help that they desperately need as far as therapies are concerned.”

Basye’s legislation has failed to advance beyond the committee level for the past two years after opposition from the healthcare industry which claims consumer costs would rise.

Missouri Insurance Coalition, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Anthem testified against his measure in Committee this year while Gateway Association for Behavior Analysis, Missouri Association for Behavior Analysis and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St Louis spoke in favor of it.  Despite passing out of a committee on insurance policy and a panel on legislative oversight unanimously, Basye’s bill never reached the House floor.

The legislation as presented in last session would prohibit health carriers from limiting coverage or denying reimbursement for treatment of symptoms and behaviors for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities.  Proponents say children with developmental disabilities don’t have enough access to therapeutic services and stress that getting the right kinds of therapy to them early is important for their future success.

According to Boone County Family Resources, there are about 64,000 Missouri children under the age of 18 with a disability.  The organization says 28,068 of them have private health insurance coverage, while 37,405 receive Medicaid, which is public health coverage. Another 3,147 have no health insurance coverage.

Those in the autism spectrum already have insurance coverage from a 2010 state law.

Basye told KWIX radio that he’s focused on furthering two other measures from last year.  One would allow students in the Columbia School District to take city-owned buses to school while the other one would help veterans receive more benefits.

(Missourinet affiliate KWIX and Missouirnet’s Brian Hauswirth contributed to this report)