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ABA For Military Kids Bill Introduced In Congress

May 09, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (May 9, 2014) -- Bipartisan legislation that would require TRICARE to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) for all military children with developmental disabilities, including autism, at medically prescribed levels was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Tom Rooney (R-FL), the Caring for Military Children with Developmental Disabilities Act of 2014 marks the latest effort in Congress to improve and standardize medical coverage of ABA therapy under TRICARE, the military health system.

"Autism Speaks commends the leadership and dedication of Congressmen Larson and Rooney in pursuing this vital legislation for military children," said Karen Driscoll, Autism Speaks' associate director for federal government affairs and military relations. "Given the unique way military families serve today and all they sacrifice, proving appropriate access to care and investing in the future of our military children is the right thing to do."

The bill, HR.4630, would provide access to ABA for all children with developmental disabilities, improve coverage to address medically recommended treatment levels, and allow for coverage of the ABA tiered service delivery model which includes Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and ABA Technicians.

"Access to health care services and treatment are crucial for children with developmental disabilities," said Larson (left). "Today, families serving our nation and military retirees face even greater challenges accessing that care. That's why we are continuing our work to honor our military families and ensure access to the care and services they deserve."

Rooney said, "Families across the country face incredible challenges in raising children with autism and developmental disabilities. I've seen this firsthand with my two nephews on the autism spectrum. For our military families, these challenges can be particularly daunting.

"Our common sense bill helps ensure that the children of our troops and military retirees have access to the health care services they need,"Rooney said.

In 2012, a similar bill passed both houses of Congress requiring expanded coverage, but the measure was whittled down in conference committee to a one-year pilot program which has been problematic and has served very few children.

TRICARE now has three different programs delivering ABA services in three different ways, and not one of them is permanent.  Last month, TRICARE reported to Congress it plans to consolidate the three programs into a new demonstration which is also a temporary program.  The new bill works to make ABA coverage a permanent medical benefit under TRICARE.