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Nixon Touts Autism Bill in Springfield

Governor Jay Nixon spoke at Burrell Behavioral Health’s Autism Center in Springfield today to discuss a bill that would provide insurance for children diagnosed with autism. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes reports.

Nixon, along with several other Missouri legislators including State Representative Sara Lampe and Senator Eric Schmitt made a stop in Springfield today as part of three city tour to bring awareness to the growing issue of autism.The bill, which has been pre-filed in both the Missouri Senate and House, would improve access to autism treatment for Missouri families struggling to find support.Currently, autism is one of very few diagnoses not covered by insurance companies because of its similarities to Down syndrome and other mental disabilities. Although there is no pill to help control the symptoms of autism, it has been medically proven that with the correct therapy, those suffering from the disease can see dramatic improvements in their quality of life. Missouri legislators are now saying that it is discrimination to turn away someone with autism. Governor Nixon says that with the support of Missouri citizens the state can become a leader in diagnosing and treating autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in approximately 1-in-100 births in America. Those pushing the bill to aid in this effort are concerned because when the statistics were reviewed in October the data showed a sharp increase of 1-in-150 births. If the bill passes it will force insurance companies to not put a limit on the amount of therapy sessions a child diagnosed with autism will receive. Also, carriers will not be able to restrict, terminate, or refuse to renew coverage up to $72,000 on an individual or their dependent solely because the individual is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Tera Campbell’s son was recently diagnosed with autism. She says that if this bill passes, it will play a vital role in the treatment her son receives as well as her family’s lifestyle. Nixon and his team will also be making stops in Jefferson City and St. Louis, Missouri today.

For KSMU News, I'm Chasity Mayes.