TRICARE Services Available for Special Needs Families Published April 11, 2010 By Shari Lopatin TriWest Healthcare Alliance PORTLAND, Ore. -- TRICARE beneficiaries who have family members with special needs now have access to unique services within the TRICARE program. The most important service is the TRICARE Extended Care Health Option, or ECHO. To be eligible for ECHO, a family must first enroll into its service branch's Exceptional Family Member Program. Each service branch has a point of contact to help families enroll. After enrolling, the family needs a referral to register for ECHO. Families that live in TRICARE's West Region may call the TriWest ECHO information and referral line at 1-866-212-0442. Once registered, each beneficiary will be assigned an ECHO nurse who helps manage their care and answer questions about claims and the benefit. Families may also ask their ECHO nurse about any co-pays or cost shares that may apply. Additional cost information is available at www.tricare.mil/costs. The other service is TRICARE's Autism Services Demonstration, an enhanced benefit under the ECHO program. Through this service, autistic family members meeting certain criteria can access Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services from participating providers. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, ABA may help reduce problem behaviors associated with autism and teach vital new skills. Children eligible for the Autism Services Demonstration must have a diagnosis that falls along the autism spectrum. In addition, they must have an active duty sponsor, be living in the United States, be 18 months or older and be enrolled in the ECHO program through their TRICARE regional contractor. For the West Region, that contractor is TriWest Healthcare Alliance. For more information on the ECHO program and the Autism Services Demonstration, visit www.triwest.com/ECHO or call TriWest at 1-888-TRIWEST (874-9378).