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Military Kids Gain Easier Access to ABA, But Barriers Remain

February 06, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (February 6, 2014) -- TRICARE, the military healthcare program, has eased onerous testing and assessment requirements for retiring service members to access applied behavior analysis (ABA) under its Pilot program for non-active duty family members. 

Beneficiaries who were receiving ECHO Autism Demonstration services upon retirement from active duty will be allowed direct entry into the ABA Pilot and given a one-year grace period to complete all diagnostic, assessment, and referral requirements.

"These are important steps to address continuity of care for children of retiring service members, but we still have a long way to go to make sure the needs of all TRICARE beneficiaries with autism are met and policies are not overly burdensome," said Karen Driscoll, Autism Speaks' associate director for federal government affairs and military relations. "Action is needed to ensure families have timely access to care and services are consistent with best practices."

TRICARE currently administers three different programs delivering ABA services, including the TRICARE Basic Program, the ECHO Autism Demonstration for active duty family members, and the ABA Pilot for non-active duty family members.

“Each of the three TRICARE programs vary significantly, and not one of them meets the needs of our kids,” said Driscoll. “Leadership at the Department of Defense has the ability to correct unnecessary barriers to ABA services and further action is needed.” 

To better understand the three plans ABA plans, Autism Speaks has created a side-by-side analysis which can be viewed here.   

Updated TRICARE policies can be found at the links below: