Therapy for ALL Disabilities
In July 2019, Missouri's Governor Mike Parson signed into law legislation that required insurance to cover medically necessary therapies for children with developmental and physical disabilities. MO became the 3rd state to require insurance to cover therapy for all disabilities. All 50 states have autism mandates.
Parents and advocates are organizing around the country to get Therapy for All legislation passed in their state. Learn more about the work being done in your state on our Disability Empowerment website. Follow nationwide efforts on Facebook too.
We have compiled the information below to help to parents, providers, and friends advocate for similar legislation in their states. To learn about how we got it passed in Missouri, go to our Therapy for MO Children with Disabilities page.
Lady and child playing a board game
Child climbing steps
boy playing with toys
Lady and child playing a board game
Let us begin by saying this is what worked for us. You will have your own advocacy journey. We want to share some things we learned along the way, as well a information that could support your efforts. When we began, we were just a few mothers with no real legislative experience and didn't really know where to begin. We made it to the finish line because other advocates, lobbyists, and even legislators gave us tips and suggestions along the way. We want to pass on what we learned.
(Please note we are in the process of building this page, so bear with us.)
Where do we begin?
The first thing you need to do is start building your team. You cannot go at this alone. You will need a small group ready to do the leg work. Eventually you will need supporters from all over the state. We began by creating a Facebook page where we could share our work. Soon after, we made a website where people could learn about the issue. We sent emails sharing our efforts and a link to our page to therapy clinics and disabilities groups across the state. The more your legislation progresses, the easier it will be to build this alliance. Make sure to let us know about the team you are building so we can add it to the Disability Empowerment website so others in your state can find it.
Next, find a legislator who will sponsor the legislation. Talk to your local legislators. If they won't do it, find a legislator who will. You will get more "no" responses than "yes", but you only need one "yes". Send media from our efforts in Missouri so they know this is being done in other parts of the country. Encourage your legislators that your state needs to be in the front of this effort.
While you are looking for a legislator, start telling your story. Find local media outlets to feature the children who would benefit from this legislation. Ask them to do a story on the need for all children having insurance coverage for medically necessary therapies. The language we like to use is "There are 49 states with autism mandates. Only 3 states' mandates are inclusive of all disabilities. We simply want to expand our autism mandate to cover all disabilities."
All of this can be happening at the same time and doing it in the summer and fall before most states begin their legislative session is the best time to get started!
Legislation has been filed. Now what?
We are sure you have lots of question related to what to do after the legislation is filed. We are working on sustainable model for answering all the questions and supporting others while not over-extending ourselves. We are all volunteers with full time jobs, other advocacy efforts, and families to raise.
Please follow our FB page. We will share some information there, as well as the progress advocates in other states are making on getting insurance coverage for therapies to be inclusive of all disabilities.