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Lobbyist Money Help  

Private Insurance Companies Help Pay for First Steps

April 13, 2005
By: Bente Birkeland
State Capital Bureau

State senators disagree on who should foot the bill for First Steps.

Bente Birkeland has more from Jefferson City.

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The Senate gave first round approval to a bill that would salvage the First Steps Program. The program was almost eliminated under Gov. Blunt's Medicaid cuts. Senator Mike Gibbons, a Republican from St. Louis County and the President Pro Tem, sponspored the bill. It would require insurance companies to pick up some of the costs. The program gives treatments and therapies to children under three with development problems like Autism.

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" I mean everybody in here is trying to find a way to cover costs on programs and things we think state government should be involved with."

Gibbons says the program isn't covered under a lot of health plans. His bill would change that by requiring private insurance companies to pay up to 3 thousand dollars a year to families with a child in First Steps. Senator John Loudon a Republican from Ballwin says forcing insurance companies to pay is inefficient.

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"When you take this bill and you take this risk down to the 40 percent of the people in small business health plans and individual health plans and you make them effectively bear the cost for 100 prevent of kids in the program that's not an efficient sharing of risk.

If the money from the insurance companies isn't enough, parents would pay between 5 and 100 dollars a month. The state would pick up the rest of the tab.

From the state Capitol, I'm Bente Birkeland.

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The Missouri Senate gave first round approval to a bill requiring private insurance companies to help pay for First Steps.

Bente Birkeland has more from Jefferson City.

Story:
RunTime:
OutCue: SOC

First Steps isn't covered by most private insurance companies. Senator Mike Gibbons, a Republican from St. Louis County and the President Pro Tem, sponsored a bill to change that. The bill would require private insurance companies to pay up to 3 thousand dollars a year to families with a child in First Steps.

Senator Pat Dougherty a Democrat from St. Louis said this bill is better than not have the program at all. First steps was almost eliminated under Gov. Blunt's Medicaid cuts.

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"The only reason we're here dealing with this bill is because and thank God, the parents of this state pushed us and the Governor to the wall and said no more."

Ten Senators voted for an amendment that would not require insurance companies to foot part of the bill.

From the state Capitol, I'm Bente Birkeland.