The Navy Times reports:
The House moved May 18 to expand coverage for autism services under Tricare, setting the stage for debate later this year with the Senate in drafting a final version of the defense bill.
An amendment to the House version of the 2013 defense authorization bill, sponsored by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., would remove a $36,000 annual cap for autism therapy set under Tricare’s Extended Health Care Option program.
A similar amendment sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., failed to pass the Senate Armed Services Committee in late May, which means the House and Senate will discuss the issue when negotiators meet to write a final compromise defense bill.
To offset the estimated $30 million cost of broader coverage, the House trimmed an equal amount from the Army’s Research, Development, Test and Evaluation budget: $9 million from endurance unmanned aerial vehicles and $21 million from the Aerostat Joint Program Office, a move that further reduced that office’s funding to $40 million below the Pentagon’s original $190 million budget request.
Autism advocates say Larson’s amendment is a “small victory” in the effort to broaden services.
Marine wife Karen Driscoll, a government relations specialist with the advocacy group Autism Speaks, said lifting coverage caps would benefit active-duty families struggling to pay for extended treatment and help families of troops injured in combat.