Defense Secretary Gates Responds to Senators' Letter on Cognitive Rehabilitation

Patient Being Helped out of a Wheelchair

United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has responded to the letter a group of Senators issued on August 4, 2008 calling on him to ensure official TRICARE coverage of cognitive rehabilitation. As you may recall, BIAA played a crucial role in helping initiate and promote this letter, which was led by Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN).

In his response, Secretary Gates continues to defend TRICARE's lack of coverage of cognitive rehabilitation, maintaining that there is insufficient evidence from properly structured research protocols to establish the general acceptance of cognitive rehabilitation as a proven medical treatment.

Specifically, Secretary Gates states, "The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs reports that while the existing evidence is supportive of cognitive rehabilitation, the rigor of the research by which that evidence was produced has not yet met the required standard." At the same time, Secretary Gates' letter does acknowledge that "many organizations and reviews have supported cognitive rehabilitation."

BIAA strongly disagrees with the argument put forth by Secretary Gates that there is insufficient evidence to justify official TRICARE coverage of cognitive rehabilitation. BIAA, along with numerous congressional advocates, will continue to press this issue in the new 111th Congress next year.