It is such a tough time for the DoD to consider changes to benefits packages for service members right now, but there are legislators right now that are trying anyway. Here is a link to an article of two legislatures who are pushing for autistic benefits for retirees and increasing the cap on benefits.
Rising health care costs are on everyone’s mind right now. Health care is going to, yet again, be front and center during next year presidential campaigns. Health care costs are rising dramatically, and the cost of service to treat the military’s autistic dependents is already high. I wish I had actual figures to know what the cost is for the tens of thousands of dependents receiving services such as ABA and other costly treatments, but I know at $36,0000 annually doing the math is not very difficult.
I want to reiterate, especially as an actively serving officer in the Army, that I am pleased to a large degree with the services that Tricare provides. There certainly is MUCH that can be improved on and there are many shortfalls in the administrative areas of Tricare, EFMP, ECHO, Respite and others. I am thankful and appreciative. BUT, the limits currently set by Tricare just aren’t enough to provide the appropriate amount of private care autistic kids need. Don’t get me wrong $36,000 annually is a lot of money. This figure also appears to be the financial benefit benchmark that is being mirrored in those states whose legislatures are passing autism insurance mandates. I would personnaly like to see the cap increased to provide more costly private services like ABA, but I know that Tricare and the government can’t be wholly responsible for all that care. At least, not under the current confines of IDEA and the problems it creates for military families, and ultimately where responsibility for the growing epidemic called autism belongs. My children belong to me. So, ultimately, responsibility for their care, education and development belongs to me as well. I appreciate the care that Tricare provides for private services for all of my boys. But, I also appreciate that some of the fight resides with us navigating the public education system and IDEA to fight for the services my boys need from them as well. I wrote a series of posts a few months ago about Tricare and autism benefits that you can read here.
I am a supporter of these legislative efforts. More money invested into legitimate, plausible autistic treatment methodologies like ABA into early and intensive treatments will only decrease the long term cost on our ever-increasingly fragile systems of Social Security and Medicaid if intensive and early treatment isn’t provided in the early stage of the life cycle. If the government does not pay more now for early intervention through increased caps in benefits, they will certainly pay more later as those autistic dependents grow and mature and require much more from the Tricare system and then the government.