Senate Bill 123 could mandate coverage for children with disabilities

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A Senate Bill could mandate insurance companies in Missouri to provide coverage for children with physical or developmental disabilities.

More than 14 thousand people across the state are not covered under their current medical plan. Many insurance companies in Missouri do not cover therapy or treatment for developmental disabilities. And some therapy sessions can costs hundreds of dollars, and without insurance, some kids may not get the treatment they need.

“I think the sooner we start therapy with these kiddos the better,” says Jolene Palmquist, Mercy Therapy Services Dir.

“Unfortunately insurance does not cover a lot of the resources and the things we might recommend for these kiddos,” says Kristy Parker, Freeman Clinical Director.

Children with autism are currently covered under Missouri insurance to have therapy and developmental treatments. The other kids without an autism diagnosis, but are experiencing developmental delays, are not covered by insurance.

“And children with autism account for about 50 percent of children with developmental disabilities, but the other 50 percent don’t have this guaranteed coverage, so those families are either going without the therapy or they are paying hundreds of dollars per therapy session to get those equivalent therapies for their children,” says Kristy Parker.

“These are milestones, these are things like sitting up, rolling over, things that normal development would happen that these children need therapy and assistance in learning how to do. It’s frustrating that you have- that you’re paying for insurance and you can’t get this coverage,” says Sen. Bill White, (R) 32nd District.

And Director Jolene Palmquist says the faster therapy can be introduced to a child the better the impacts will be in the future.

“There’s a window of time that their brain is more plastic and that we can get them more on track and hopefully prevent more long-term impacts both physically and socially,” says Jolene Palmquist, Mercy Therapy Services Dir.

If this bill is passed it will increase the cost of insurance, but Senator Bill White says it’s estimated that it will only be about a dollar. Senate Bill 123 is currently being reviewed by the Health Policies and Pensions Committee, and if passed will move on to the Senate floor.

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