WASHINGTON, DC (September 13, 2012) -- Autism Speaks has endorsed a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15) that would require the Department of Defense to review TRICARE policy for the children of military families, including those with special needs.
The bill expresses the sense of Congress that children of military members deserve appropriate health care and access to pediatric-specific treatment, providers, and facilities, and that TRICARE should meet the needs of military children, "including those with special needs and chronic conditions."
The bill, HR. 4341, has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee. It would require the Department of Defense to report back its findings on TRICARE pediatric care to the defense and appropriations committees in Congress. In addition to Autism Speaks, the bill has won the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Military Officers Association of America,and the National Military Family Association.
Stivers bill states that "despite wholehearted efforts by the Department of Defense, a gap exists between linking military families with children with special-health-care needs and chronic conditions with the resources and services available from local or regional highly specialized providers and the communities and States in which they reside.
"The gap is especially exacerbated, the bill states, "by the mobility of military families, who often move from State to State, because special-needs health care, educational, and social services are very specific to each local community and State and such services often have lengthy waiting lists."
The Pentagon would have 18 months to report back to Congress with any legislative or regulatory changes in TRICARE. Autism Speaks is currently working with military families to advocate for autism coverage that is lacking under current TRICARE policy. This bill will provide a forum for families that face similar challenges in the future.