New TRICARE rules set to take affect on July 25 would prevent military children with autism from getting much-needed treatment, according to an autism advocacy group.
According to the Autism Speaks, the TRICARE changes require:
-Standardized testing every 6 months in order to continue receiving care
-Evidence of "measurable progress" as indicated by standardized testing results to receive continued therapy
-Waivers to continue care beyond two years of treatment and after age 16
-New discharge criteria for failure to make progress, sustainable gains, or a parent's inability to participate in the treatment
Critics of the TRICARE requirements say autistic children who don't show progress within six months would be denied care. U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray have taken up the cause, sending a letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and Director of TRICARE Management Activity, Dr. Jonathan Woodson. That letter reads, in part:
"Given the impact family health care plays on military readiness, it is essential military families have assurances of continued health care. Policies inconsistent with good clinical practice only serve to limit, restrict, delay, and deny care. The apparent lack of understanding of the needs of children with developmental disability, including autism, when drafting the recent TRICARE policy changes is astounding."
There are more than 23,000 military children with autism, according to Autism Speaks.
Virginia television station WTKR-TV met with one military mom who's devastated about the upcoming changes. You'll find that video at the top of this post.