WASHINGTON, DC (May 7, 2014) -- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) demanded answers yesterday from top military leaders on what is being done to improve access to behavioral therapy for military kids with autism and other developmental disabilities.
At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gillibrand asked for more information on TRICARE's plans to consolidate its various benefits for applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy into one program. Congress for two years has grappled with legislation that would require TRICARE to provide full access to medically necessary therapies for autism and other developmental disabilities.
Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged coverage of treatments for military children with developmental disabilities “is terribly important to us" and committed to work with the Senator on the issue.
In addressing the Joint Chiefs, Gillibrand spoke of the sacrifices made by military families.
“One of the sacrifices I don’t think they should have to make is not being able to afford treatments for their kids with autism or other developmental disabilities," she said. "I think it's so unfair that, just because you will sacrifice everything for our nation and serve for our nation, that ...your child, who needs these important therapies to learn, to grow and to develop are denied it because we don’t want to make them a priority. I think that’s a mistake. I think it's morally wrong. “