Autism Law Introduced in House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th District, of New Jersey and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18th District, of Pennsylvania, introduced the bipartisan Autism CARES Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives to reauthorize federal programs and activities that assist children, adults and families with Autism.

The bill, House Resolution 1058, is supported by a coalition of autism and disability advocate organizations, including Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Autism NJ.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Mike Enzi, R-WY.

“Our new legislation will reauthorize vital federal research on earlier interventions for children with autism and expands funding for critical research, education, housing, and other programs that assist the countless children and adults on the spectrum, and their families,” Smith said in a statement.

“The bill will also help ensure that the estimated 50,000 persons with autism each year who ‘age out’ of critical assistance programs and enter adulthood are supported, as many individuals and communities are unprepared for this transition,” Smith said.

The Autism CARES Act of 2019 is a reauthorization of Smith and Doyle’s Autism CARES Act of 2014, Public Law 113-157.

HR 1058 will authorize over $1 billion in funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Health Resources and Services Administration over five years. At CDC, the funding will go to developmental disability surveillance and research; at HRSA, the funding will cover education, early detection and intervention; at NIH, the funding will cover the expansion and coordination of autism-related activities.

“The Association of University Centers on Disabilities is grateful to the bipartisan bicameral champions of the Autism CARES legislation for recognizing the critical value of the interdisciplinary training, research, and other activities supported by the bill.  We look forward to a speedy reauthorization and continued progress in serving autistic individuals and their families,” said Andy Imparato, executive director of the AUCD.

“The bipartisan bill introduced on Feb. 7 will reauthorize the law for five years (through 2024), further expand the mission to include individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities across the lifespan, expand the interagency autism coordinating committee (IACC) to include agencies that provide services and supports to individuals in the community and authorizes a report to research ways to increase their health and well-being,” said Scott Badesch, executive director and CEO of the Autism Society of America.