Dec 21 2016

Over the last two years, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has worked across the aisle to advance policies that support and benefit military families, including expanding job opportunities for military spouses and promoting commonsense reforms to improve the quality and delivery of health care for servicemembers and their families.
Senator Tillis has been working across the aisle to ensure military families have access to autism therapy for their children.
Senators Tillis and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have been working together to help stop reductions to TRICARE’s reimbursement rates for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to beneficiaries diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
In March 2016, Tillis and Gillibrand urged the Defense Secretary to delay the new rates until after completion of the Demonstration program to protect ABA therapy access for over 26,000 children of military personnel and retirees. The following month, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) moved forward with adjusting TRICARE reimbursement rates for ABA therapy to beneficiaries diagnosed with ASD. Although metropolitan areas saw an increase in reimbursement rates, military bases mostly located in suburban or rural areas saw drastic cuts and substantial decreases.
The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act includes a Tillis-Gillibrand provision that would address issues with reimbursement rates for the TRICARE Autism Care Demonstration program to ensure access to care for all military dependents with ASD.
“It’s difficult for some military parents at Fort Bragg, N.C., and other bases nationwide, to find in-network specialists for their children with autism and that’s due, in part, to the way federal officials changed health insurance plan reimbursements earlier this year, according to a group of U.S. senators. North Carolina’s Thom Tillis has joined the group of senators in a bipartisan call for Congress to reverse the reimbursement cuts via additional funding for the U.S. Department of Defense.” (McClatchy, 10/5/16)
Senator Tillis has been leading the effort to modernize and improve health care for servicemembers and their families.
Senator Tillis secured several provisions in the FY2017 NDAA that would reform TRICARE by increasing collaboration between the military and private sector. TRICARE is the military health plan for servicemembers, military retirees, and their families.
Tillis’ provisions would:
  • Establish high performance military-civilian integrated healthy delivery systems, which would foster innovation in military treatment facilities, enhance operational medical force readiness, and improve access to specialized medical care.
  • Require the Secretary of Defense to enter into centrally-managed, performance-based contracts with private sector entities to improve the delivery of health care services at military treatment facilities with limited ability to provide services such as primary care or expanded-hours urgent care.
  • Set the stage for memoranda of agreements between the Department of Defense and institution of higher education that offer degrees in allopathic or osteopathic medicine, which could help improve and sustain operational medical force readiness and possibly serve as a productive recruiting grounds for new military physicians.
Tillis has been working to expand job opportunities for military spouses, recognizing the vast personal and professional sacrifices they make.
Senator Tillis secured an amendment in the FY2017 NDAA that would close the two-year time limit loophole for military spouses who move from base to base and seek federal employment on that base. Tillis’ amendment will have an immediate impact on the quality of life for military spouses and their families.
Currently, a military spouse only has two years to invoke the military spouse preference from the date of the service member’s permanent change of station orders, which are issued well in advance of a military family arriving at a new duty station. Combined with the demands of raising children, adjusting to new surroundings, and the actual availability of federal jobs, many military spouses have missed consideration for employment or have had job offers withdrawn because they lost eligibility.
Tillis helped secure a major Census change to count North Carolina servicemembers.
Senator Tillis worked with the communities of Fayetteville and Jacksonville and the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that U.S. military personnel who are deployed outside the U.S. and are living on or off a military installation outside the U.S. are counted as residents of the state where they live and sleep most of the time. Previously, the Census counted deployed servicemembers as residents of states they lived in at the time they originally enlisted for service.
The changes to the 2020 census mean that all soldiers, airmen and Marines from North Carolina’s military installations will be counted in the decennial census as residents of the state, regardless of whether or not they are deployed abroad.
Since many federal tax dollars are proportional to population, North Carolina would benefit from additional Department of Education, transportation, and agriculture funding as a result of an increased population in the 2020 census.