Ripley legislator, locals back Autism insurance bill

By Beth Thomas/Southern Sentinel

Rep. Jody Steverson (D-Ripley) is backing House Bill 292 that will ensure Mississippi insurance companies will pay for Autism treatments for autistic children in the state.

Co-authored by Steverson and Rep. Steve Massengill (R-Hickory Flat), the bill, if passed, will offer insurance to help cover the costs of diagnostics, testing and treatment plans to help children cope with and improve symptoms of Autism. The disorder affects one in 88 children in the U.S.

“Passing this bill isn’t a political thing; it’s a matter of what’s right and what’s wrong,” said Ripley High School teacher and former football coach Quess Hood. Hood’s son, Jasper, has Autism. “Parents of autistic children aren’t asking insurance agencies to pay for it all, we just need them to help pay for some of it. Our children need more help than what they’re getting.”

Mississippi public schools provide therapy to autistic children, but Hood said the therapy isn’t quite enough. “Children like my son receive therapy at school, and that’s good, but he needs more than what the school system can give.”