“When a servicemember commits to defending our country and our freedoms,” says Rachel Kenyon, “there is no question that, as a nation, we are responsible for providing the very best care for them AND their families back home.”
Ms. Kenyon knows what she’s talking about. As a military wife and the mother of a daughter with autism, she’s fighting to change how the military’s insurance program covers autism treatments for children. Currently, active duty families receive limited treatment under ECHO (Extended Care Health Option), under TRICARE, the military’s insurance program. Dependents of military retirees aren’t eligible for ECHO, though. So that means that dependents of military retirees, including those forced to medically retire after being wounded, are denied autism treatment.
“HR2288 – Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act would make autism treatments available to all military families, whether active duty or retired,” Ms. Kenyon said to me in an interview this morning. “It also removes the arbitrary dollar cap on care.”
“The bill sits idle in the House Armed Services Committee with 69 bipartisan cosponsors,” she noted. “Our families are still waiting for Congress to take action and bring HR2288 to a favorable vote for the 23,000 military children with autism.”
Ms. Kenyon created this moving, but troubling, video to further the cause:
You can find out more about the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (HR 2288) at CMKAA’s website, and follow the group on Facebook. Ms. Kenyon has also organized a petition on Change.org asking the United States government and the Department of Defense to do right by our military personnel.
As a U.S. Army veteran and a mother of two kids on the autism spectrum, I’m appalled at the situation. You bet I signed the petition. But you don’t need to be a vet or a special needs mom to find it offensive that these families are being completely screwed. Surely our wounded warriors, and their families, deserve better.
Oh, by the way? If you think the government is on top of this, check out this video from the House Committee on Appropriations from March 8, in which Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY) questions the Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Director of TRICARE Management Activity on its coverage of autism treatments. Rep. Hinchey’s questions start at about 23:00. At about the 28:00 mark, after bragging about TRICARE’s ECHO program, Dr. Woodson admits he doesn’t know what ECHO stands for.
It stands for Extended Care Health Option, Dr. Woodson, and it’s only available to active duty military.
Yeah…that petition again is at Change.org.