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Tricare Abruptly Changes Course Over ABA Coverage

If you caught guest blogger Sarah's post Tuesday "Where is the 'Care' in 'Tricare'"  or my Military.com story the same day you've heard about Tricare's plan to drastically change the requirements placed on autistic military kids of active duty parents who receive a specific one-on-one therapy known as "applied behavior analysis" or ABA. The plan would've required every child take a specific standardized progress test every six months from a hard-to-find provider. It would've also put a cap on for how long children can receive care without getting a waiver and how young they must be do so waiver free.

The public outcry against the plan was tremendous. Hundreds of angry parents left messages on Tricare's Facebook page. Sarah's blog post was just one of many from autistic parents railing against how the changes would impact their children. You can read more about why they didn't like the new policy in my story from Tuesday.

After more than a week of asking questions and searching for clarifications on just how the policy, posted to the Tricare site in late June, was going to roll out for a late July implementation, Tricare suddenly changed course. Instead of placing the new policy on active duty and retirees, Tricare decided to just restrict it to retirees.

Read all about the changes to the new policy and why Tricare changed course over at my Military.com story.

An explanation on how they would the policy worked for active duty families disappeared from their website. A few reporters (including me) were invited to a small press conference call with Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Tricare's head, to discuss changes to the program.

When asked repeatedly why Tricare changed their mind about who would be subject to the new policy he said he didn't understand the question and then repeated that there are no changes for active duty ABA users.

Those who had spoken up against the policy have counted this as a "win" for activism. But retirees are still wondering how their children will receive the treatment they need. Under the newly revised new policy plan, the changes will only impact retirees under an ABA "pilot program."

"I'm so glad that you are happy and don't have to go through all the changes for your children to receive ABA. Sadly, it's not the same for retiree family members. There is no reason for us to celebrate today," Facebook user Kim Barta posted on the American Military Families Autism Support page. "Frankly, it's a stab in the back. My husband retired after 20 years of active duty and this is the thanks that we and other retiree families get. All children with autism should be treated the same and deserve to receive ABA. Duty status should have absolutely nothing to do with whether a child receives appropriate treatment for autism. I don't believe that this happens to any other diagnosis than autism. So while you are all celebrating, just remember that there are others who have lost the battle."

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