NEW YORK, NY (June 22, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded Congressmen John Larson (CT-1) and Walter Jones (NC-3) for introducing bipartisan legislation that would assure military families receive necessary therapies for dependents who have autism.
The legislation would clarify that TRICARE the Department of Defense's (DoD) health care program for members of the uniformed services and their families covers medically necessary autism therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA,) for dependents of both active duty and retired service members who have autism.
The bill was introduced today by Representatives Larson and Jones as the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act.
"Autism Speaks commends Congressmen Larson and Jones for their commitment to individuals with autism and their families, and for making autism insurance coverage a legislative priority, especially for military families," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "Families across the country are literally going broke trying to provide their children with the therapies they need and deserve. The fact that our military families, who serve to protect our freedom and security, could be put in this situation is shameful."
Bell also called on Congress to support funding for the DoDs Autism Research Program in the FY 2012 federal budget that starts October 1. Research funded through DoD-ARP is peer-reviewed, benefits from the direct input of consumer advocates, and is targeted to the most innovative, promising research in the field.
In addition, he urged quick Congressional action on the bipartisan Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) which would renew federal funding support for critical autism research and treatment programs for another three years. Sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Mike Enzi (WY) and in the House by Representatives Chris Smith (NJ-4) and Mike Doyle (PA-14), CARA would reauthorize provisions in the Combating Autism Act of 2006 which will sunset on September 30.
To learn more about Autism Votes, an initiative of Autism Speaks focused on federal and state legislative advocacy, please visit www.autismvotes.org.