ASAN has sent the following letter to members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees regarding an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that addresses coverage of of behavioral treatments for developmentally disabled beneficiaries of military healthcare.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) would like to thank you for your work on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2013. As you finalize this legislation in conference, we urge you to recede to the Senate in Section 705 and maintain the bipartisan Amendment 3058 as modified that was offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. This provision of the Senate bill will go a long way to ensure that our military service members’ autistic children and those with other developmental disabilities get the services they need.
As part of your ongoing dedication to the rights of disabled beneficiaries, we urge you to maintain the language contained in the Senate version of the bill, as the language in the House version is restricted to only “Autism Spectrum Disorder” rather than including all developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder. Certainly all TRICARE beneficiaries with developmental disabilities should be provided coverage under the bill.
ASAN would also like to express an additional concern that we hope you will be able to address in report language on the amendment. As it currently reads, the amendment will require coverage of “behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis.” This language must be clarified to ensure that it is interpreted in a sufficiently broad fashion. Not only are there evidence-based behavioral treatments apart from ABA, such as the DIR/Floortime and SCERTS models, but many of those with developmental disabilities also require other kinds of habilitative services, such as occupational and speech therapy. ASAN strongly suggests that report language be used to clarify that the amendment intends to cover all evidence-based behavioral health services and habilitative treatment, not only Applied Behavioral Analysis.
We thank you again for demonstrating your support for the developmental disability community. We trust that you will consider our suggestion regarding the language of the NDAA amendment as you move forward in securing the healthcare rights of disabled TRICARE beneficiaries.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network