Representative Still Pushing Autism Bill
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Representative Still Pushing Autism Bill

Date: October 13, 2009
By: Lauren Stenzel
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 357 and SB 167

Intro:  After making national headlines, bill sponsor still trying to seal the deal.
RunTime:  1:23
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap:  Only a handful of states have mandated insurance cover behavioral therapy for autistic children, and Missouri could be next.

Republican Representative Dwight Scharnhorst (sharn-hor-st)says he sponsored the bill because his grandson had autism, and he was able to see how high costs can be.

Actuality:  SCHARNN.WAV
Run Time:  00:11
Description: "I've had constituents visit me and demonstrate the tremendous cost, as much as 75-80,000 dollars a year it costs for treatment and education of these children."

Scharnhorst says he wants there to be discussion on the issue because if autistic children don't get treatment they can become a distraction in schools.

Actuality:  EXCUSE.WAV
Run Time:  00:14
Description: "Unfortunately, of the twelve neuro-biological diseases, autism is the only one that is not covered by health insurance, so I'm carrying legislation into the next session, in 2010, that would include these people. It would eliminate their pre-existing condition exclusion."

David Smith, spokesperson for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance says his company opposes the bill because increasing prices may alienate customers.

Actuality:  DAVID2.WAV
Run Time:  00:08
Description: "We have priced out by our actuaries to be about a three percent increase per member per month, and that was based on actual data that we had pulled from several other states."

Scharnhorst says he has the support of most democrats, it's his side of the aisle he's working on.

The Speaker of the House, Ron Richard, says he plans on bringing the bill back to the floor this session.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Lauren Stenzel.

Intro:  One Representative says his personal experience is what led him to sponsor unlikely bill.
RunTime:  0:42
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Republican Representative Dwight Scharnhorst says he knows how difficult it is to support children with autism.

His grandson suffered from autism, and Scharnhorst says treatment therapy reached 80,000 dollars.

"Unfortunately, of the twelve neurobiological diseases,autism is the only one not covered by health insurance. I am carrying legistlation into the next session into 2010 that would include these people."

Insurance companies are the main opponents of the bill saying they would expect premium rates to increase by three percent, but these numbers have varied depending on the source.

The bill is expected to be brought back to the floor this coming session.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Lauren Stenzel.