WASHINGTON, DC (November 29, 2012) -- The Senate today approved a bipartisan amendment that would improve access to ABA care for the nation's 23,000 military kids with autism.
Sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the vote marked the first Senate vote on the issue and was a critical step forward in getting action completed before the end of the lame duck Congress in January. The vote was announced by Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright before the House Oversight Committee, where he was testifying on the federal response to autism.
An amendment to the Senate's proposed defense budget, the measure would require TRICARE, the military's health insurance system, to cover ABA benefits for all military families, regardless of whether they are active duty or retired. In addition, it would improve the level of the benefits.
The Senate must next vote on the entire defense budget bill. A conference committee between the Senate and House will reconcile their two versions and then send a final bill to President Obama.
The House earlier this year added the same TRICARE measure to its defense budget bill.
The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Scott Brown (R-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).