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House Approves Amendment to Improve Autism Coverage for Military Families

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment on May 18, 2012, to improve medical care for military families that have dependents with autism. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is sponsored by John Larson (D - Connecticut), improves TRICARE insurance coverage for current and retired Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force families with autistic dependents.

Currently, military families lose their autism insurance benefits when they retire, even if they retire as a result of being wounded in combat. Some in the armed forces have had to re-enlist just to ensure that they are eligible to receive autism coverage.

The new legislation would also provide consistent services to eligible families in the Reserves and National Guard with autistic dependents, as well as put an end to the arbitrary annual financial cap for autism care, which limits the treatment available to military families with autistic dependents.

The bill will now make its way to the U.S. Senate for approval. Before the Senate vote, however, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel will have a hearing on the National Defense Authorization Act to discuss the amendment to TRICARE coverage for military families with autistic dependents. Subcommittee chair Jim Webb (D - Virginia) will hear testimony from Dr. Geraldine Dawson from Autism Speaks, U.S. Navy Veteran Jeremy Hilton, Dr. Vera Tait of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and officials from the Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 21. You can track the status of the National Defense Authorization Act by clicking here.

There is still time to tell your Senator to support H.R. 4310!

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