New TRICARE requirements could impact coverage of critical therapy for autism

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 11, 2013

Norfolk, Va. - Military families who have children with autism are in jeopardy of losing coverage for critical therapy thanks to new requirements under TRICARE.

"[I'm] looking at my son's face and imagining the great possibilities of his future and the possibility of that being stomped on because money is tight," said military spouse Leslie Manning.

The changes came after an outcry from military families to extend TRICARE's Applied Behavior Analysis from active duty members to include retired military as well.  However, the new coverage requirements may be restricting access more than it extends it.

"It's absolutely moronic that they're making these arbitrary decisions and its heart wrenching," Manning said.

According to Christine Passaretti with the Mea' Alofa Autism Support center, TRICARE is now making kids get new assessments to continue or start treatment, but many behavior analysts aren't yet trained to do it.

TRICARE's also restricting coverage to two years of therapy, and they're cutting that to one year of therapy if the child is 16 or older.  They're also requiring kids show progress from therapy, or they risk losing coverage.

"It's a lifelong disability that requires treatment for an extended period of time," Passaretti said.  "It's the only treatment that's been proven to make significant benefits for children with autism."

The changes are set to go into effect at the end of the month.

Families are urging TRICARE customers to call their lawmakers.

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray have already expressed outrage in a letter to the Department of Defense<

Click the links below for more information. 

Tidewater Autism Society

Tidewater Autism Society Resource Directory

Autism Speaks

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Parents believe autistic son was cured after behavior therapy program