Insurance coverage to be provided for families of children with autism

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Some Kansas parents who have children with autism will soon receive insurance coverage for their kids, thanks to a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Kansas becomes the 34th state in the nation to require that insurance companies provide coverage for autism. The new law is expected to affect 250 children next year. And another 750 kids in 2016.

Jill Robinson, of Lenexa, says the law means help is on the way for her four-year-old son, Oliver, who was diagnosed with autism more than two years ago.

Without the coverage, Robinson says therapies for her child cost more than $60,000 a year. She says that's not affordable, even for upper middle class households like hers.

"We knew families in our neighborhood that took losses on their home and went and rented homes in Missouri just to get the coverage for their children," Robinson said. "And the results we've seen from them doing that: Amazing! It turned their lives upside down for a little bit, but their kids are functioning in mainstream schools without services and doing fantastic."

Missouri required autism insurance coverage a few years ago.

Now, surrounded by several families who have children with autism, Gov. Brownback said he was pleased that more Kansas parents no longer have to worry as much about how to pay for the therapies their children need.

"I consider myself a bleeding heart conservative," Brownback said. "And part of that is you help people where they are in positions where they need help. That's an important role in a compassionate society, to do that. This is an important thing to do in a compassionate society."

The new law requires insurance companies in Kansas to provide autism coverage for children under 12, beginning in January.

Autism insurance advocates say when there's a therapy that's been scientifically proven to help kids with autism, it's hard for anyone to say that insurance companies shouldn't cover it.

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