Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Rooney Amendment Included in Defense Appropriations Bill

Jun 16, 2016
Press Release

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Act sponsored by Representatives Tom Rooney (FL-17), John B. Larson (CT-01) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) that will provide increased assistance to military families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“Having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) shouldn’t make it harder for you to serve in the military,” Rooney said. “This amendment is a commonsense adjustment in policy that never should have been changed in the first place. We need to ensure that our service members and veterans have the tools to raise their families and give back to them a small fraction of what they have sacrificed for this country.”

In December 2015, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced cuts to reimbursement rates for applied behavior analysis (ABA) services – a widely recognized treatment program for children with ASD that is already covered by a majority of private insurers in most regions of the country. Since becoming effective in April, these cuts have resulted in many areas with military facilities facing shortages of ABA therapy providers.

Further, the enactment of these cuts came in the middle of the DHA’s Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration; a demonstration program on ABA services set to run through December 2018. Consequently, these ill-timed cuts would skew the strong analytical analysis of ABA services the Demonstration was expected to yield.

The bipartisan Rooney-Larson-Smith Amendment would restore ABA reimbursement rates, a provision already authorized by a similar amendment offered by the group to the FY 2017 NDAA (H.R. 4909), which was adopted by voice vote on the House floor. Once the cuts have been rolled back, rates will not be allowed to increase or decrease until the conclusion of the Autism Care Demonstration in 2018.

The final FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill will be voted on by the House later today.