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Autism Movie Family Seeks to Help Military Families Pass Autism Legislation

By February 22, 2012 One Comment

We have today the privilege of sharing with you some thoughts directly from one of the families in the US of Autism movie about healthcare for the military and specifically about a new bill they hope to see passed through Congress soon so that families can get much needed access to coverage.  Enjoy and best of luck to the Huhtanen family and thousands of families out there just like them looking to make this a better world for our loved ones on the autism spectrum! God Bless!

Time for Change: Battles on the Homefront

Shelly L Huhtanen

 There has been a misconception that Tricare, the healthcare provider that provides medical entitlements to the military, covers all or at least the majority of the services for our military children. In fact, what little services that are covered are not even in the Tricare plan. Our families have to go through the ECHO program which is the extended healthcare option. From this program, our children receive a small percentage of care that does not come close to what the American Academy of Pediatrics deems as medically necessary for our children with autism to improve.

Many people may say that we should be grateful for what little services we may receive.  Many of our families who have paid the ultimate price by losing family members overseas or who have had to say goodbye to our spouses not knowing when or if we will see them again, feel that it is not an unreasonable request for our healthcare provider to give our families the resources to care for our children. It is frustrating for military families to learn that civilian insurance companies are providing more medical services for children on the spectrum through current improvements in legislation than what is provided to our military families.

One issue that is not known is the loss of services once our soldiers retire or who are forced into medical retirement due to injuries sustained from the two wars our men and women in uniform have been fighting. Once you are no longer considered active duty, you are dropped from the ECHO program. This, in turn, means their children on the spectrum no longer are able to receive insurance coverage towards ABA services.

I know of soldiers who have served 26 years in the military or who have been severely wounded from combat to only come home and find that their children with autism are no longer covered for ABA services. The first question that comes to my mind is, “What message does this send to our military families who have fought the battles for our children on the home front while our spouses have fought the battles overseas?”

My hope is that this will soon change. HR 2288 is a bill that has already gained momentum through our legislature with several co-sponsors in support of this must needed change. This bill will force Tricare to cover all necessary ABA services for our military children with autism. It will no longer be in the ECHO program meaning soldiers who have retired will still receive services to enable them to care for their children. I ask that you contact your congressmen and urge them to support this bill. It is long overdue and will support military families in their fight for their children with autism.

An organization that my husband and I fully support is ACT Today for military families. Since the hardships with military families can be indescribable, this organization dedicates itself to raising money for our families. Due to the lack of support of Tricare, ACT Today for military families, provides grants to families so they can care for their children on the spectrum.

On April 7, Mark and I will be running for Team Broden to raise money for ACT Today for  military families in San Diego. I encourage you to support this wonderful organization. If you would like to support Team Broden, please click on this link.  Whatever you can provide to these children is greatly appreciated.

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