Many people would be very shocked to know that 1 in 88 Active Duty military kids are affected by Autism. That is a HUGE number in itself but then what about the retiree’s and what about the Reservist’s? Suddenly that number increases to 1 child in 67 affected by Autism. In our family alone we have 2 children on the Spectrum.
TRICARE does not cover autism therapies. A separate arm of services called the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) which is secondary to enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) does offer what amounts to an average of 11 hours of ABA therapy per week – far below the recommended 25-40 hours per week.
With HR2288 – the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act, we are asking that TRICARE take autism therapies out of ECHO and place them as medically necessary as part of TRICARE standard – thus making these proven treatments available to all active duty and retiree dependents and removing the dollar cap on care.
ECHO is not available to retirees.
Wounded Warriors who are forced to retire due to injury or disease do not have access to autism services. According to TRICARE/DoD data, less than 10% of active duty families who do have access to ECHO are accessing autism treatments, yet none are receiving the recommended amount because of the dollar cap ($36,000 per year).
Also, families accessing autism therapies under ECHO are forced to choose between ECHO benefits in order to maximize autism therapies. For every dollar of ECHO benefits used towards other services, a dollar of ABA is essentially taken away. We seek to change that. Autism therapies should not have barriers to receive care, they should be equally accessible to the military family as would treatment for heart defects or a broken arm.
With the advocacy efforts of Autism Speaks, 29 states have now passed insurance reform to include autism therapies as medically necessary – we are seeking to do the same for our military families. This is not an issue of civilian versus military, it is an effort to level the playing field for ALL children with autism. This effort neither detracts from or argues the continued efforts to make proven treatments readily available to all. In fact, for TRICARE to step up with best-practice standard of care for autism treatment, they would be taking the opportunity to once again set the standard for medical care throughout the insurance industry.
On Tuesday there is a briefing between military families and Congress and their staff. Members of Congress and their staffs will learn firsthand from military families about the challenges they face raising children on the autism spectrum, especially in accessing necessary health care.
The briefing, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and U.S. Rep John Larson of Connecticut, will focus also on HR.2288, the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA). Sponsored by Larson and Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, HR.2288 would assure all military families, regardless of duty status, qualify for autism benefits under TRICARE. Rachel Kenyon, Karen Driscoll and Jeremy Hilton, the parents of children with autism, will explain how the TRICARE program has affected their families. In addition, Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson and Rhondavena Laporte, branch head of the U.S. Marine Corps’ family care programs will also address the briefing.
Congressional Briefing for Military Families
Tuesday, January 31, 11:30 am
Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 203
If you plan to attend, forward your name to [email protected]; your name will be added to a list need to gain admittance to the briefing room.
I will have a complete update about this briefing next week as my husband will be attending. I want to give a shout out to WV Senator Joe Manchin, I contacted his office to speak to them about this meeting and ask if they were attending this briefing. They had not heard of the meeting so I sent them some information. The military liaison is WONDERFUL there. She is prior service and a spouse. She is now going to the meeting and my husband will meet her! This makes me so proud to be a WV resident. I know that in the past Joe Manchin has always been a huge supporter of the military, so very thankful they are attending this briefing. I will have some more on that next week too!
Here is a wonderful blog that a fellow Autism Mommy does, she has many facts about Autism and the military up there. I plan to start some posts about this as well. Anyway, here is the link to stimcity….http://stimcity.org/advocacy/
If you would like more information on Autism and the military, find my facebook page or comment here. Don’t give up parents!! God has given you the blessing of raising your children, keep up the fight and do not give up!!!
The other day I posted about my husband going to the briefing held in D.C. It was very informative and he got to meet Senator Joe Manchin from WV. We are both WV residents and both my husband and I were pleased he took time out to meet with him. The meeting was very informative and I really hope that it helps get the bill passed. There needs to be a lot of changes made for our military kids!
Here is more about what the meeting was about from www.stimcity.org
Thank you to Peter Bell, Executive Vice President of Programs and Services for Autism Speaks, for his support! It is the hard work of everyone at Autism Speaks taking the charge to make this right, along with all of the tremendous work they do for families across the globe, that gives me hope.
[Don’t forget! You can write your US Representative & US Senator as often as your little heart desires! Tell them to support HR2288. Go here http://cmkaa.org/
ABA care is now available to retirees!
PS. Did you see my husband got to meet Senator Joe Manchin?