Posted by: Rachel Kenyon | January 24, 2012

An Open Letter of Invitation to Our 112th Congress

Dear Senators and Representatives

of the 112th Session of the United States Congress,

Our proud United States Military request your attendance at a Congressional briefing on the impact autism has on our families.  Tens of thousands of our military children have autism and the very nature of military life creates real barriers to care.

Congressional Briefing on the Impact of Autism on Military Families

Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 11:30a

Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 203

Washington, DC

Our families are proud to serve.  Our ability to continue to do so in the face of autism is compromised.  The readiness of our troops and the well-being of our families willing to support their soldiers must remain the top priorities.

Please join us to learn more about autism and the challenges it brings to those of us who serve.  Come and see the resilience and dedication our military families share regardless of what battle is brought before us.

Let us work together to ensure that the men and women who sacrifice everything they have to protect our freedoms can secure the futures and freedoms of their own children as well.

Autism is a complex neurological disorder, and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States.  It affects one in every eighty-eight active duty military dependents. 

• In treatment of autism, early intervention and intensive behavioral therapy, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), are imperative to success.

• Currently TRICARE segregates ABA treatment into the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).  ECHO treatment is subject to a financial cap of $36,000 per year, which pays for an average of 11 hours of ABA therapy per week.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Navy and Army Surgeons General recommend a minimum of 25-40 hours per week of ABA therapy.

• Coverage of ABA and other behavioral health treatments in the civilian sector exceed that of TRICARE.  Currently, 29 states have passed laws which require private insurers to cover autism-related therapies.  Unfortunately both state and federal laws such as this do not extend to TRICARE and fail the military child with autism.

Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (H.R. 2288) will amend TRICARE policy to provide ABA and other intensive behavioral intervention services in line with 25-40 hours per week as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Navy and Army Surgeons General.

• Making ABA therapy a basic entitlement under TRICARE Standard for eligible dependents (both active duty and retiree) is essential to supporting military families.  Wounded Warriors that are medically retired lose all autism coverage for their children.

• The assurance of family care is critical for mission readiness.

• Our military families deserve the quality of care that is equal to their heroic service and sacrifice in defense of our Nation, our people, and our freedom.

We hope to see you there.

Respectfully,

Mrs. Rachel Kenyon,

Wife to Command Sergeant Major William Kenyon, 1BN 102IN(MTN), CTARNG

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