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Autism Care Demonstration: Participation

TRICARE beneficiaries must meet specific qualifications to participate in the Autism Care Demonstration (ACD). Learn more on our ACD Eligibility page. 

Before getting care under the ACD:

  • TRICARE beneficiaries first need a definitive autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. 
  • After diagnosing a beneficiary with ASD, the provider must submit a referral or diagnostic evaluation to Health Net Federal Services, LLC (HNFS). This step is also referred to as a "nomination" for ACD services.   

This initiates the process for ACD enrollment. 

Pre-Enrollment Support

HNFS offers Autism Services Coordinators (non-clinical coordinators with ACD experience) who can help families with the pre-enrollment criteria. 

Note: An Autism Services Coordinator is not the same as an Autism Services Navigator (ASN). Learn more about ASNs on our Autism Services Navigators page.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

The ASD diagnosis occurs under the TRICARE basic benefit. The diagnosis must be from a TRICARE-authorized primary care manager (PCM) or specialized ASD-diagnosing and referring provider.

As of Oct. 1, 2021, approved ASD-diagnosing and referring provider types are:

PCMs Specialized ASD-Diagnosing and
Referring Providers
  • Pediatricians
  • Pediatric family medicine physicians
  • Pediatric nurse practitioners
  • Physicians board-certified or board-eligible in:
    • Developmental-behavioral pediatrics
    • Neurodevelopmental pediatrics
    • Pediatric neurology or psychiatry
  • Doctoral-level clinical psychologists
  • Specific board-certified doctors of nursing practice (DNP) who meet criteria


Request for Autism Care Demonstration Services 

The ASD-diagnosing and referring provider must submit a request to HNFS. We will verify the request includes the following required items:

  • A referral or diagnostic evaluation stating ASD. We cannot accept a “provisional” diagnosis. The referral may or may not specify applied behavior analysis (ABA) services. 
  • The date of initial ASD diagnosis. 
  • A Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) Diagnostic Checklist. The referring provider must complete this checklist and return it with all initial referrals and at each two-year referral cycle. (It does not have to be completed by the provider who first diagnosed your child.) Referring providers can download the checklist from our Provider Forms page. (Note: ABA providers are not permitted to complete the DSM-5 Diagnostic Checklist.) 
  • Results from one of the following assessment tools: 
    • Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT™), 
    • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule™, Second Edition (ADOS®-2), 
    • Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI®-R), 
    • Childhood Autism Rating Scale™, Second Edition (CARS™-2), 
    • Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, Third Edition (GARS-3) (Note: Also requires submission of diagnostic evaluation with documentation of diagnosing methods used to supplement the GARS-3 parent questionnaire. If needed, one of HNFS' Autism Services Coordinators can help guide you through this requirement.) 
  • For family members of active duty service members only, registration in the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO). One of HNFS' Autism Services Coordinators can assist you with provisional ECHO registration process if you are not already registered. You will receive provisional registration into ECHO for up to 90 days. During the 90 days, your child can access the ECHO benefit and continue the process of initiating ABA services under the ACD. Please note:

    • If you do not submit proof of Exceptional Family Member Program enrollment (or a waiver, when eligible) within the 90 days, your child will be disenrolled from ECHO and will no longer be eligible for ABA services. 

    • If your child loses eligibility for ABA services between the expiration of the 90-day provisional period and registration into ECHO, the Autism Services Coordinator will support you for an additional 90 days. If ECHO registration has not been completed after 180 days, your child will no longer be eligible for the ACD. 

    • Once ECHO registration is complete and ABA treatment has been authorized, the beneficiary's eligibility for the ACD will be reinstated. HNFS will not backdate the authorization to cover the dates of service between the expiration of the provisional ECHO status and registration. No services under the ACD can be rendered during this period. 

<< Return to the ACD home page.