Today Congressman John B. Larson announced the passage of an amendment to require TRICARE, the military healthcare program, to cover behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis for military children with developmental disabilities. The amendment, authored by Congressman Larson and co-sponsored by Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), comes as a result of a meeting at an Autism Speaks forum at the home of Tim Shea of West Hartford with Manchester resident Rachel Kenyon. Wife of Command Sergeant Major William Kenyon, Rachel made her case and that of all military families who have dealt with difficulties with TRICARE, which currently limits access to behavioral health treatment.
Larson has repeatedly called on Congress to institute a permanent fix to TRICARE for military children. Previously, Larson introduced the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (H.R. 2288) in the 112th Congress. That bipartisan bill, which would have required permanent coverage under TRICARE basic of ABA treatments, passed both the House and Senate as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization ACT (NDAA) of 2013. In a limited victory for military families, the conference report for the NDAA created a one-year-pilot program allowing military children with autism to receive greater access to ABA under TRICARE. Today's amendment would institute a permanent solution for military children with developmental disabilities.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is proven to greatly help children with developmental disabilities, particularly those who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Today, access to ABA is limited by an annual dollar cap on coverage and is not adequately available to children of military retirees with TRICARE coverage.