Missouri House, Senate vote to extend coverage for children with disabilities

Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 at 5:35 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Expanding therapy options for children with disabilities is gaining support in Jefferson City, Missouri.

House Bill 399 would stop insurance companies from limiting coverage for children who have developmental disabilities.

Heartland News spoke with a parent who said that change would lift a burden she’s faced for years.

“Absolutely awful." that’s how Brandy Hepler describes the insurance hassle she faces to get needed treatment for her son Wesley, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy as a baby.

“Insurance coverage has been a challenge since the very beginning with Wesley,” Hepler said.

Now, a bill making its way through the Missouri House aims to help families like the Heplers.

It would extend insurance coverage for children with developmental disabilities.

Hepler said the bill will open more doors.

The new measure is an extension of a 2010 law that required therapy coverage for children with Autism.

Leanne Hopper works for Autism Support Now in Cape Girardeau.

"It’s heartbreaking when we tell a family that you don’t have a diagnosis of autism so we’re not able to find the funding” Hopper said.

Hopper said this new legislation doesn’t go far enough.

“What we want to see is more services provided to a wider range of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities to be able to provide them with more coverage with their insurance and the way that this bill is written currently we’re afraid that it’s not going to be able to do that," Hopper said.

Hepler said she just wants the best for her son.

“He’s going to be with us forever and we want him to be a productive member of society,” she said. "We know that he can, but it’s just these legislative hurdles that we’re just constantly having to jump.”

Both the Missouri House and Senate passed versions of the bill, and now lawmakers have to agree on any changes before taking a final vote.

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