New bill would expand Tricare coverage of autism therapy for military children

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NewsChannel 3 took action on behalf of military children with autism--highlighting Tricare's attempt last summer to cut back on benefits for applied behavior analysis therapy, also known as ABA therapy.

Now, Congress is joining the fight.

A bi-partisan group of senators introduced the "Caring for Military Children with Developmental Disabilities Act" this week.

It would require Tricare to pay for all therapy with an ABA specialist that has been prescribed by a doctor or psychologist.

Right now, senators say Tricare can get away with only paying for partial services.

In the past, Tricare also tried to stop paying for ABA specialists that didn't have master's degrees or national board certifications.

If the bill is passed, Tricare will have to cover the costs for therapists with bachelor’s degrees and state certifications.

The bill will also expand ABA therapy coverage to children with other developmental disabilities like down-syndrome.

Right now, Tricare will only pay if your child has an autism diagnosis.

The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, but many say it’s a step in the right direction.


  • Rusty Benham

    Well, since autism is an easy diagnosis for many kids, only because they don’t know what else is wrong with them, the insurance companies will end up taking it in the shorts and it will be passed on to the rest of the members. While I do think some kids deserve the diagnosis, many do not. Parents shrug their shoulders and let the medical community worry about it rather than take matters into their own hands because the parents that do, see great results with their kids.

    • Milmom

      So Rusty, tell me about YOUR autistic child! Better yet, tell me about YOUR medical degree! Don’t have either? Then shut your mouth! I am mom to an autistic military child and the fight to get any type of much needed therapy is ongoing! And FYI, autism is not an easy diagnosis as it took years and many wrong diagnoses to get to where we are now.

      • Roger

        Thank you, Milmom. It has been a ridiculous, 2 1/2 year-long fight with Tricare to get ABA therapy for my wonderful, autistic son (EFM Cat 5). He’s been in ABA therapy for only a few months. Before we started speech therapy, he had completely lost the ability to communicate; he has grown leaps and bounds, although we have a long way to go.

        Rusty seems to speak out of a fear that insurance companies will be paying premiums (at tax payers’ expense) for kids who don’t need therapy, but he has NO IDEA how difficult it is raising an autistic child, and how much you have to fight, poke, and prod Tricare to get them to do their job and cover therapy. Some kids need it, and right now, Tricare is too inclined to drop the ball.

  • AspiDad

    @MILMOM – Right on! As a parent of two Aspies, the diagnosis takes years to process, thousands of dollars fighting the system (not covered by insurance) and years off my life. @Rusty – thank your lucky stars you are not in our shoes.

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