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Are Military Children with Disabilities Receiving Appropriate Healthcare?

06.26.2013, by Susan Conolly
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Paul K. Ban, Ph.D.
Retired State Director of Special Education and Student Support

According to a May 16, 2013 article published by Time.com “The Pentagon’s Letting Down Our Kids.” Jeremy Hilton, who wrote the article, is a Navy Veteran. In 2012, he was the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year. Mr. Hilton states that a class action lawsuit was filed in 2010 by military families against the Department of Defense (DoD) and TRICARE (the military healthcare insurance program) for failing to provide medically-appropriate behavioral health care for military children with autism.  A federal judge in July found in favor of the military families. The DoD filed an appeal.

The article provides other examples where TRICARE denied covering the cost for  certain medical equipment (cranial helmets) or physical therapy procedures because TRICARE ruled them to be experimental or unconventional.  Mr. Hilton states that congress has bi-partisan support for reshaping the policies and practices of TRICARE coverage for military family members with disabilities. Bills have been introduced and congressional hearings have been held to address these complex medically-related issues. 

“The least we as a nation can do is ensure they have appropriate healthcare, particularly for their truly exceptional family members.” I agree with Mr. Hilton. We must come together as community to ensure appropriate healthcare is available for all its citizenry, particularly for those service members and their families who have given up so much to protect and preserve our nation. Mr. Hilton’s article can be found at http://nation.time.com/2013/05/16/the-pentagons-letting-down-our-kids/print/

Related to this issue, the Specialized Training Of Military Parents (STOMP), a national organization dedicated to assisting military-connected families who have children with special needs, are asking parents to complete an on-line survey about their experiences with accessing services through Medicaid for their children.

On June 13, 2013 STOMP wrote in an email: “STOMP has been asked to help identify some of the potential barriers as well as some possible solutions to this challenge. The Monkey Survey link here will provide us with information to help in this process. We recognize it will take Legislative change both at the local and National level and this survey will help mold the language that will be put forth on this issue. We are not in this alone. We have the support of many from the Department of Defense and Military Caucus who are willing to move this forward. However, the voice of Families is essential and you have the ability to assure it is heard. Please disseminate this survey to all military families you know. They can be either active duty or retired. Share the link and ask them to do so as well. Take the survey yourself and know that your voice is part of this great effort.  The link is:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/stompmedicaid

Our military-connected families and their children deserve the support of our nation. Let’s stand with them by assuring their children with exceptional needs receive appropriate health care.