An important piece of health care legislation, Senate Bill 514, that was recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson will require insurance companies to cover therapeutic care for children with disabilities. With the new law now set to go into effect, Missouri will become one of three states to require coverage for young people with physical or developmental disabilities.

The new law expands legislation that was approved in 2010 to require coverage for therapies for children with Autism. It also builds on federal requirements that provide some coverage for therapies for children with disabilities.

Current law allows for unlimited speech therapy, but just 20 physical therapy or occupational therapy sessions combined per year.

With the new law, insurers will not be able to limit therapy visits without giving patients and doctors a chance to document that more sessions are medically necessary.

The legislator who led the effort to pass the bill into law said, “With this disability legislation becoming law, all children will now have access to much needed therapies that will help them achieve success in their lives. These children deserve the chance to reach out for a piece of the American dream. Now they have a better chance to achieve that possibility.”

Supporters of the bill said any increases in insurance premiums that result from the coverage requirement will be minimal. They noted that after Missouri passed the autism coverage requirements in 2010, the average costs of therapies per member went up about 39 cents per month. They also note the costs will likely be offset by savings in the public school system and social services as kids with disabilities become more independent.

Jim Neely, R-Cameron, represents the 8th District in the Missouri House. District 8 includes parts of Smithville and Kearney and includes Holt. Neely can be reached at (573) 751-0246 or Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov.

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