JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation to help families with autistic children, but it's not the bill he wanted. And he's blaming House leaders for that.
Nixon sharply criticized Republican House leaders Wednesday for failing vote earlier this year on a bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatment for autistic children. He said the coverage is vital because early intervention with autistic children can make a profound difference, and he's sick of arguments against the proposal.
"They don't have any arguments against it. The only argument is that the insurance industry doesn't want it. And that's not an argument, OK?" Nixon said. "That's a position that a special interest is taking for their own special interest. They're wrong. We're right. We're going to continue to press this fight in the light of the day."
The insurance industry has said requiring the coverage could cause a greater than 3 percent increase in premiums.
In May, House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, created a special committee to draft an autism coverage bill by Dec. 1 for the 2010 legislative session. Richard said he wants the measure approved by the full House in January.
Nixon's comments came during a Wednesday bill signing ceremony for a separate autism bill that formalizes existing autistic parent committees. That bill requires the state to work with autistic people and their families to set up autism programs and services.
During the ceremony in the governor's Capitol office, Nixon invited advocates to come back next year when he said he would be able to sign legislation requiring insurance coverage. Later, Nixon quipped that he would use his "stunning personality" to continue pressuring lawmakers.