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Missouri Starts Licensing Therapists Under New Autism Law

Kansas City, MO – Missouri's autism insurance mandate takes effect this month. The law requires insurance companies to cover autism therapies for children. The state's gearing up to license therapists to do the work, but as KCUR's Elana Gordon reports, that process is just getting underway.

Missouri's new law requires state-regulated insurance companies to cover up to $40,000 a year in an intensive therapy, called applied behavioral analysis (ABA), for children up to the age of 18.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently appointed a board to develop and oversee the licensing and regulation process for those ABA therapists.

Tom Davis, from Kansas City, is a member of the new board. He says he's expecting they'll get a lot of applications for licenses, given that autism affects about one in 110 kids.

"There already is a tremendous demand for this service, and so I think there will be a number of people who will be interested in this as a profession," says Davis.

Davis says the board will likely meet for the first time in the next couple weeks to get the licensing system going.

Meanwhile, the state insurance department has already issued about two dozen licenses to therapists that have met special certification criteria outlined in the new law.

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