Larson Amendment for Military Kids with Developmental Disabilities Passes House
Washington – Today Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) 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 Rep. 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.
"Our military families have waited too long for a permanent solution to the problems accessing behavioral health treatment under TRICARE. It's hard enough being on the battlefield away from home to have the extra burden of worrying about your kids care," said Larson. "The sacrifices of these families, like Rachel and Command Sergeant Major William Kenyon, deserve our support to ensure their children are able to access care and treatment proven to help in their development. Today, with the passage of this amendment, we are one step to closer to providing that access to appropriate levels of treatment."
"I commend Congressman Rooney for joining me in offering this amendment and will continue to fight for families like the Kenyons so that all military children have the opportunity to reach their highest potential by receiving the right treatments, at the right time," Larson continued. "I also want to thank Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith and Representatives Joe Courtney, Walter Jones and Mike Doyle for their support moving this issue forward."
"Families across the country – including those of my two nephews – face incredible challenges in raising children with autism. For our military families, those challenges can be particularly daunting," Rooney said. "Our common sense amendment helps ensure that the children of our troops and military retirees have access to the health care services they need."
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.