WASHINGTON, DC (December 5, 2012) -- The U.S. Senate today approved a new Department of Defense budget bill that includes an amendment improving ABA benefits for the 23,000 military families raising children with autism.
Sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the amendment would require the military's TRICARE insurance program to offer behavioral health treatment, such as ABA, to all military members. ABA benefits are now restricted to the ECHO program for active duty members. In addition, it would lift a $36,000 annual cap on ABA benefits which limits care to 6 to 11 hours a week, well below the recommended level of care.
The House of Representatives passed a similar amendment to its defense budget bill in May sponsored by Rep. John Larson (D-CT.) The Senate and House must now meet in conference committee to hammer out a final compromise bill to send to President Obama.
“It is alarming that our military families who have sacrificed so much are denied essential services for their children suffering from autism and other developmental disabilities,” said Gillibrand. “This legislation will help ensure that our military families have access to the critical services, care and support they desperately need and deserve.”