A Florida congressman led the charge to successful amend the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Act to increase aid to military families with autistic children.
Back in December, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced it would cut reimbursements for applied behavior analysis (ABA) services through TRICARE, the health-care program used by active duty and retired military personnel. The cuts took effect in April. Much of these cuts impacted assistance for autistic children.
Florida Republican Tom Rooney teamed up with Connecticut Democrat John Larson and New Jersey Republican Chris Smith to offer an amendment to restore the ABA services reimbursement funds. The House added the amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act on Wednesday.
“Having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) shouldn’t make it harder for you to serve in the military,” Rooney said on Thursday. “This amendment is a commonsense adjustment in policy that never should have been changed in the first place. We need to ensure that our service members and veterans have the tools to raise their families and give back to them a small fraction of what they have sacrificed for this country.”
“With everything our servicemembers and their families give to our country, we should not hesitate to provide the care they need in return,” Larson said on Wednesday. “Every military family makes sacrifices, but they should never be asked to sacrifice the health and wellbeing of their children. I was extremely proud to work with Reps. Rooney and Smith on this effort. They have been great champions for our military families.”
With the amendment added to the legislation, the House is scheduled to vote on the Defense Appropriations Bill on Thursday. The bill is expected to pass.