Apr 28 2020
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) sent a letter to Lieutenant General Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), urging his strong support for allowing the dependents of military service members to have proper access to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children of servicemembers who require behavioral health care, often those with forms of autism, normally travel to clinics and facilities to see Certified Behavioral Health Analysts and other clinicians. The recent pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders have limited the availability of care and forced parents to care for their children with limited support from certified clinicians.
The letter specifically requests that DHA make ABA care available through the use of telehealth. This will allow dependents who rely on the care and expertise of certified behavioral health care professionals to interact directly with their provider and receive the guidance they need.
“We are living in uncertain times, and extraordinary measures must be taken to provide for the quality and timely care of our servicemembers and their children,” wrote Sen. Moran. “I urge you to review the ABA Telemedicine policy and allow TRICARE beneficiaries to receive ABA telehealth care for the duration of the COVID-19 presidential emergency declaration that was issued on March 13, 2020.”
“The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) thanks Sen. Moran for shining light on this critical issue of telehealth,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS President. “Our current crisis continues to expose gaps in protections to Guardsmen while on the frontlines of COVID-19. We're hopeful that with the help of leaders like Senator Moran, we will solve as many of these problems as we can to help our brave servicemembers and their families as they respond to this national crisis.”
“As we navigate the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Tricare for Kids Coalition strongly encourages the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to consider the unique needs of kids and to implement flexibility in policies and processes, including making telehealth available for all care for which it is possible, to ensure safe and uninterrupted access to all health care, supports and services necessary for our military children,” said Kara Tollett Oakley, Chair of Tricare for Kids Coalition. “We commend Senator Moran’s work on behalf of military children and look forward to working with him to ensure their unique needs are met, and that families have access to all the services and care their children require.”
The full letter can be found here or below.
Lieutenant General Ronald PlaceDirector, Defense Health Agency
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA
Dear Lieutenant General Place:
I write to express my strong support for providing military members and their dependents with proper treatment for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our military members utilize TRICARE benefits that provide ABA therapy to their children. ABA therapy programs are designed to increase language and communication skills, improve attention and mitigate behavioral challenges. Typically, military children receive ABA from a board-certified behavior analyst in a brick and mortar location.
Military members in Kansas have contacted me to share their frustration with being denied telehealth services for ABA during the COVID-19 crisis. Like most states, Kansas is currently under a shelter in place policy, which is preventing children from accessing their typical in-person sessions. The Defense Health Agency has responded to this issue by allowing Board Certified Behavioral Analysts and assistant behavior analysts to provide unlimited guidance to parents and caregivers, but disallows a TRICARE beneficiary from receiving ABA therapy through telehealth.
I urge you to review the ABA Telemedicine policy and allow TRICARE beneficiaries to receive ABA telehealth care for the duration of the COVID-19 presidential emergency declaration that was issued on March 13, 2020. We are living in uncertain times, and extraordinary measures must be taken to provide for the quality and timely care of our service members and their children.
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