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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ABLE and TRICARE in the Lame Duck Session of Congress

At Autism Speaks, Stuart Spielman writes:
Congress returns today to Washington to tackle a weighty agenda of items that need to be addressed before the newly elected Congress takes office in January. The widely reported “fiscal cliff,” the mix of looming tax and spending issues, has dominated the headlines and affects federal funding for autism research and services. But there are other issues that Congress must not overlook:
  • TRICARE Reform – The House has already passed its version of the new defense budget, the National Defense Authorization Act, which strengthens the coverage of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other behavioral health treatments under TRICARE, the health care program for military families. TRICARE currently provides only limited ABA coverage. Retirees, including wounded warriors, cannot get coverage for their children and those military families who can access ABA often bump up against dollar caps.
We can and should do better for the children of those who serve our country.The Senate and ultimately the full Congress should send President Obama a defense budget that removes TRICARE’s arbitrary limits on medically necessary autism care.
  • Disability Savings – The House and the Senate are both considering the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a bill that would authorize tax-advantaged savings accounts for the needs of people with disabilities. Current law encourages savings for future college costs. Whether or not they attend college people with autism need a way to save for medical care, employment support, housing, and other major expenses. ABLE accounts would meet this need and preserve a beneficiary’s eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested federal programs.
ABLE enjoys broad bipartisan support in both the House (240 cosponsors) and the Senate (38 cosponsors), uniting legislators across the political spectrum. Many organizations throughout the disability community are working together on this effort. Any tax package that moves through Congress during the lameduck session should include ABLE
A release from Ander Crenshaw:
Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) will outline the road ahead for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act – HR 3423/S 1872) at a press conference at 2:45 p.m. at the House Triangle on Thursday, November 15.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act is bipartisan legislation that would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill was introduced in the 112th Congress on November 15, 2011 and to date has earned the support of 234 House members and 35 Senate Members.
Representatives from the National Down Syndrome Society, The Arc, and Autism Speaks will provide remarks at the press conference. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and other co-sponsors in the House and Senate have been invited to attend.
WHAT: Crenshaw, Casey outline the road ahead for the ABLE Act which was introduced on November 15, 2011 and has earned the support of more than half the House and one quarter of the Senate.
WHO: Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) confirmed. Other House and Senate co-sponsors invited.
WHEN: Thursday, November 15 at 2:45 p.m.
WHERE: House Triangle on the grounds of the United States Capitol.