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Rooney: Amendment Ensures Care for Military Kids with Autism

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) today applauded passage of an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that will ensure treatment for military children with autism.

"Families across the country -- including those of my two nephews -- face incredible challenges in raising children with autism. For our military families, those challenges can be particularly daunting," Rooney said. "Our common sense amendment helps ensure that the children of our troops and military retirees have access the health care services they need."

Under previous regulations, dependents received limited access to autism treatments, like applied behavioral analysis (ABA), due to the cap on the amount TRICARE may pay for these services on a yearly basis. As a result, children in military families could not get the care they needed. The Caring for Military Kids Act, sponsored by Rep. John Larson (CT-01) and Rooney, clarifies that military dependents with autism and dependents of retirees have access to medically necessary behavioral treatments like ABA.

"Our military families have waited too long for a permanent solution to the problems accessing behavioral health treatment under TRICARE. It's hard enough being on the battlefield away from home to have the extra burden of worrying about your kids care," said Larson. "The sacrifices of these families, like Rachel and Command Sergeant Major William Kenyon, deserve our support to ensure their children are able to access care and treatment proven to help in their development. Today, with the passage of this amendment, we are one step to closer to providing that access to appropriate levels of treatment.

"I commend Congressman Rooney for joining me in offering this amendment and will continue to fight for families like the Kenyons so that all military children have the opportunity to reach their highest potential by receiving the right treatments, at the right time," Larson continued.

Both the House and Senate included the legislation as an amendment in their respective Defense Authorization bills last year, but the fix was replaced by a one-year pilot program in the conference report that became law.

"Telling our troops that their kids can get the treatment they need this year, but maybe not next year, just isn't good enough," Rooney said. "How can we expect our troops to re-enlist when we can't even guarantee that their kids will get health care treatment a year from now? Our troops and their families deserve a long-term assurance that their children will receive the care they need."

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