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Friday, April 16, 2021

Juking the Stats at DOD

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.  As many posts have discussed, the challenges are especially great for military families.

Ellis Giacomelli at The Watertown Daily Times:
Health insurance for military members and their families falls under the DOD through TRICARE, and for autism, plans cover occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician services, psychological services, psychological testing, prescription drugs and speech therapy.

For ABA specifically, coverage is separately offered through TRICARE’s Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration. Used by several federal departments, demonstrations are designed to gauge the effectiveness and direction of a program.

According to an analysis prepared by Dr. Ira L. Cohen and published earlier this year, DOD reports have been “substantively flawed and based on the incompetent interpretation and analysis of the collected data,” leading to results that suggest military children with autism were not making behavioral progress with ABA.

“What we’ve clearly seen since 2018, is that TRICARE, if you take these reports together, is building a case against ABA services,” NCAAS spokesperson David A. Fuscus said in a February interview, adding that the case is an apparent attempt to save the department money. “At the same time, the costs for ABA services have gone up dramatically.

With rising health care prices across nearly all sectors, the DOD has calculated ABA program costs have increased by 65% over four years, to $370.4 million in 2019.


Autism Services for Kids is a campaign sponsored by the National Coalition for Access to Autism Services (NCAAS) to ensure that military children with autism have access to the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment under the Department of Defense’s (DoD) healthcare provider, TRICARE. Our campaign is designed to stop DoD from discrediting a proven and effective treatment for children with autism to save money. Military families already shoulder too many burdens – wondering if their child with autism will get the treatment they need shouldn’t be one of them.

The National Coalition for Access to Autism Services (NCAAS) is the voice of service providers and other constituents who help Americans with autism achieve their full potential. NCAAS believes Americans with autism deserve affordable coverage that ensures access to quality treatment. NCAAS members provide services to individuals across a range of private and public programs, including commercial insurance through employer-sponsored plans and the individual market, Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, and TRICARE.