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      Autism bill gives diagnosed insurance coverage

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      Update: Thursday, June 10 at 5:50 p.m.

      Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill into law Thursday giving autistic children in Missouri help with insurance coverage.

      "Under this legislation, insurance companies are prohibited from restricting, discontinuing, or slashing Missourian's coverage, simply because they receive an autism diagnosis, Nixon said.

      The bill requires insurance providers to cover up to $40,000 a year for therapy.

      It specifically requires coverage of a therapy called applied behavioral analysis, which experts believe is a vital tool.

      "By signing this bill today we are making sure more Missouri families have access to both of these critical tools, Nixon said. Because of this bill Missouri law will now require insurance policies to cover these life changing ABA therapies. Under the old law most insurance policies simply refuse to cover applied behavioral analysis -- exactly the type of therapy these children need.

      Missouri is the 21st state to require autism insurance coverage.

      The law applies to insurance companies regulated by the state and must be offered by January 2011.

      Insurance policies regulated by federal law are not required to meet these new Missouri standards.

      But Medicaid recipients and about one and a half million Missourians will be covered.

      Watch the video for the full story

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      Missouri has become the 21st state to require insurance coverage for children with autism and related disorders.

      Gov. Jay Nixon signed the autism coverage bill on Thursday in a ceremony in suburban St. Louis. He was scheduled to make additional stops for bill signing ceremonies in Springfield and Columbia.

      The measure specifically requires coverage of a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA. Nixon's office said experts believe ABA is a vital tool in helping children with autism and related disorders.

      The bill requires insurance providers to cover up to $40,000 of the therapy each year for children until age 18.

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