CMKAA Press & Media

Larson, Courtney Call on TRICARE to Collaborate with Military Families, Experts for Development of Pilot Program

(Hartford) – This week Congressman John B. Larson and Congressman Joe Courtney joined in writing a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta calling on TRICARE, the military healthcare program, to collaborate with military families and subject experts on the development of a pilot program which will help military children with autism. The one-year pilot program, included in the final 2013 defense budget authorization, is a modified version of a provision authored by Congressman John B. Larson that would require TRICARE to provide military children with autism greater access to behavioral health treatment.

[Read full Press Release at]



Blumenthal and Larson Praise Passage of Amendment Extending Autism Care to Military Families

Legislation Inspired By Manchester Family Will Assist 23,000 Military Families Nationwide

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate passed an amendment Thursday co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), to extend behavioral treatment for military children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Authored in the House by Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01), the “Caring For Military Kids With Autism Act” was adopted as an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and passed by the Senate Thursday night. The House of Representatives passed the amendment in that chamber’s version of the NDAA last spring.

[Read full press release HERE.]


Families Can Begin Submitting Claims for ABA During Interim Benefit Period

August 10, 2012

If you are TRICARE eligible, read the entire TRICARE manual change, it includes diagnostic codes and circumstances under which ABA will be reimbursed during this interim period.  This change is retroactive, eligible claims dating back to March 5, 2010, may be reimbursed under this action.
If you are not sure whether you qualify, call your TRICARE regional contractor.
ALL TRICARE telephone contact numbers can be found HERE.
Refer to the TRICARE manual change, be patient and persistent in speaking with TRICARE claims personnel, they may not yet be aware.  If you familiarize yourself with the information in the manual, you should be able to get the answers you need in regards to your own coverage.
TRICARE has a total of 60 days from the date of judgement (July 26, 2012) to appeal.  Advocates and organizations are working hard to pursuade DoD/TRICARE not to appeal this landmark case.
The TRICARE interim benefit manual to cover ABA can be found HERE.

Court Rules on Autism Therapy

On July 26th, a federal judge ruled that TRICARE’s limitation of autism therapy to children of active-duty personnel is “arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge’s instruction to the Defense Department was that, “Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy coverage be provided to basic program beneficiaries [i.e., including retired family members] who otherwise qualify for reimbursement.”

[See full post at MOAA.]


MOAA President Ryan Urges Panetta to Implement Civil Case Order


For tens of thousands of military families impacted by autism, Thursday, July 26, was a day when everything changed. That was the day Judge Reggie B. Walton, a United States District Judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Kenneth and Dawn Berge, and the class of similarly affected families in Civil Action No. 10-0373 (Berge v. United States of America).

[For entire article, go to the Huffington Post.]


Washington — Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) held a hearing on June 21 to examine the Department of Defense’s (DoD) classification that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is not medically necessary in the treatment of autism. TRICARE, the DoD’s health care program, insists that ABA is unproven. The American Academy of Pediatrics, other leaders in the medical community, and tens of thousands of military families disagree and are advocating for change.  [Read full article on HuffPo HERE.]

About the authors:

Rachel Kenyon is an Army wife and mother of two beautiful children – one with autism. Her husband is an active duty Infantry Command Sergeant Major. You can find Rachel at and @MrsSGMKenyon on Twitter.

Jeremy Hilton is an Air Force Spouse and Military Spouse Magazine’s 2012 Military Spouse of the Year. He advocates for military dependents impacted by disabilities:


[Go to to view video coverage.]


[To view news footage and read article, go to]


[Click HERE for full post.]


WASHINGTON – In a huge victory for military families struggling with autism, the annual defense budget that was passed by the House of Representatives today includes an important provision authored by Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) that will ensure that TRICARE – the military healthcare program – fully covers the treatments that military kids with autism need. [Read full release HERE.]


Congressman Larson takes to House floor to push for CMKAA to be added as amendment to the FY2013 NDAA

[Watch the Congressman rise on behalf of our military families HERE.]



“In this unique video, created by Option-G and Autism Speaks, a military mom speaks out. In a clever mix of animation and live video, Karen Driscoll, a Marine Corps wife, tells her story about having a child with autism in a military family. She talks about the real struggles that military families face – relocating, lack of services, and starting all over again after every move.”


And now let’s talk about our wounded community. When a service member is wounded, everything is dropped, and the entire family’s focus is shifted to their care. The recovery often takes years and the family now has a new decision to make. Most families move to the medical center, supporting the service member’s recovery. What does the family of the autistic child do? Which is worse–moving and struggling with the changes or staying apart? Neither option is good for that child or the family.

“Our wounded service members receive exceptional care at our medical centers. However, the success of their rehabilitation depends on the support of the entire family. When a family member, such as a child, is not receiving the services they require, it impacts the family and that service member,” Tina Atherall, LMSW, Hope For The Warriors®, Executive Vice President said.

[You can find the entire article at The Huffington Post HERE.]


Autism Speaks Salutes Military Families aboard the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

“The presentation aboard Intrepid for military families was emceed by Bob Woodruff of ABC News, a hearty supporter of veterans and Wounded Warriors.  Mr. Strautmanis, Congressman Larson and Bob and Suzanne Wright spoke of the undeniable responsibility our nation has to care for our troops and their families.  Most notably, Mr. Wright spoke of personally calling ECHO to get answers.  He spoke of the frustration when administration at ECHO told him they were unaware of families having trouble accessing autism care.  This man had taken the time to walk in my shoes.  That got my attention and earned my respect.  Marine spouse and advocate Karen Driscoll shared a powerful video highlighting the personal toll on our military families who cannot access treatments.  She also urged leaders to take this important message back with them to Washington, D.C., and implored them to take action.  The heartbreak our military families live when denied the treatments our children with autism need and deserve was exuded by each speaker.”

[For entire article, go to]


April 2, 2012

Bob and Suzanne Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks talk with Andrea Mitchell about the unique challenges facing the military family with autism.

For entire interview, go to]


by Rachel Kenyon

“As a federal program, TRICARE is exempt from autism insurance reform laws requiring ABA coverage that have been enacted in 29 states. The DoD and TRICARE continue to classify ABA as “special education” in order to segregate treatment outside of basic care.  Yet, TRICARE ECHO’s autism “CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS” states that, to become eligible, the family’s medical provider must “submit verification and date of a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder….”  It goes on to explain which medical doctors can diagnose autism. So TRICARE refuses to classify ABA as “medically necessary,” but requires a medical doctor’s prescription to provide the benefit.  This is where the hoops we jump through become completely engulfed in flames.”

[Read entire post HERE.]


[See full article HERE.]


Act of patriotism: Military families seek more help for autistic kids

by Rachel Morello

February 28th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Cheryl Chafos walks her 10-year-old son Zachary to the bus stop at 6:45 every morning. His ride to school is an hour and fifteen minutes long.

Soon after, Chafos helps her toddler into the family car so she can drive a third son, Andrew, 11, to his private Catholic school a half hour away from their home in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.Chafos says she is willing to deal with this hectic transportation schedule because each of her boys is getting the education he needs. Andrew, a gifted academic, attends a Blue Ribbon school of excellence. And Zachary attends the Kennedy Krieger School, a private institution tailored to educate children like him who have autism.Zachary Chafos was diagnosed with autism in 2004. Since then, his mom has had to fight to get him the education and other care that he needs. It isn’t easy.Meanwhile, his father has been fighting another kind of battle. Shortly after Zachary was diagnosed, his dad – an Army colonel – was deployed to Iraq for 13 months. He is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan in June.

[Read full article on Medill on the Hill.]




Resolution Urging Congress to Enact CMKAA Introduced in New Jersey Legislature


February 21, 2012

TRENTON, NJ — A resolution urging Congress to enact the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (HR.2288) has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer), the resolution says, “Military families, who make great sacrifices to protect our freedom and security, deserve to be able to provide their children with the treatments they need.”

[See this announcement and more on Autism Votes – Military Family Autism News]


Military families seek autism treatment through CMKAA legislation

By Jean Winegardner

February 5, 2011

Last Tuesday, Scott  Campbell stood up during the public comment section of a congressional  briefing for H.R. 2288, the Caring for Military Children with Autism Act (CMKAA) and spoke about his lung cancer. Doctors discovered it during his  retirement physical, requiring him to stay on active duty for treatment.

That active duty, following 28 years of service, allowed his son, a  13-year-old severely affected by autism, to continue his applied  behavior analysis (ABA) treatments and to have them paid for by his  military insurance.

“I was glad I got lung cancer,” he  said, letting the irony of his words seep into the room, “because it  meant my son could get treatment.”

[Read the full article at The Washington Times Communities.]


Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC highlights HR2288

February 3, 2012


Autism Speaks Official Blog

Military Families Tell Their Stories at Congressional Briefing

January 31, 2012  Filed under Government Relations

Military families finally got their say before Congress today about the injustice of losing autism benefits for their children when they retire, even when due to being wounded in action. More than 100 members of the military and their supporters jammed into a Capitol Hill briefing today to talk about the special difficulties military families face caring for children with autism.

Hosted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, the briefing also provided military families an opportunity to explain how they lose autism benefits once they or their spouse leaves active duty because of the current operation of the military’s TRICARE insurance program. A bill now before Congress, the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (HR.2288), would right that wrong by assuring that members of the military, regardless of their duty status are covered.

[See full post at Autism Speaks]

[Dr. Dawson’s remarks can be found in their entirety here.]


By Joslyn Gray

January 27, 2012

I’m going to go ahead and start this post off by saying that I am biased. Really, really biased. Way back in the years B.C. (before children) I served in the U.S. Army. I am now a mom, and my youngest child is autistic. I spend a lot of time trying to access the right services to help him, and that’s without dealing with military acronyms and red tape every day.

[Read full article at strollerderby]


“Never leave a fallen comrade.

Failure in my business is not an option and it would appear that my town was accepting defeat and leaving my little girl behind.  I was appalled.  Months went by with frequent calls from Mrs. SGM sharing the emotional and often fruitless results of meetings with the town, special education lawyers and one very rude town special education administrator.  It began to affect my performance.  I struggled to focus on my daily responsibilities and at times had to force the issue of autism out of my mind.  Staying focused meant ignoring my family so that I didn’t get a soldier killed in theater.”

[Go to the Autism Speaks Official Blog for the full story.]



Righting a Wrong: The Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act

By Rick Remington

Dec. 7, 2011

In 2004, a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq was wounded in Fallujah and later medically retired because of his injuries. In 2009, the same Marine was told that his son had been diagnosed with autism. But when he sought medical coverage for his son’s behavioral therapy through the military’s TRICARE healthcare system, he was denied. The reason? Such coverage is available only to dependents of active duty service members. When the family sought a Medicaid waiver for supplemental coverage of their son’s treatment, they were told the waiting list for services was over nine years long. The retired Marine and his family have since been forced to cover nearly $5,000 a month in behavioral therapy costs on their own.

Bipartisan legislation that would reverse this wrong experienced by this Marine and other military families is quietly gaining momentum in Congress with the support of military families and Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.

[Find full article on]


Larson, Jones Introduce ‘Caring for Military Kids With Autism Act’

June 22, 2011

WASHINGTON – Congressmen John Larson (CT-01) and Walter Jones (NC-03) introduced earlier today the Caring for Military Kids With Autism Act, legislation to improve the lives of military dependents with autism.

The bill would clarify that military dependents with autism have access to medically necessary behavioral health treatments such as applied behavior analysis through TRICARE. ABA is a behavioral health treatment that has shown to be effective in improving outcomes for children with autism. Under current rules and regulations, dependents receive limited access to this effective health treatment due to the cap on the amount TRICARE may pay for these services on a yearly basis.

Additionally, the legislation would ensure coverage for these services is available for dependents of retirees.

[Read entire press release HERE.]


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