At the beginning of February, two members of Congress introduced the Autism CARES Act of 2019 (HR 1058). The bill would reauthorize federal research; expand funding for critical research, education, housing, and other programs; and ensure that people with autism who age out of critical assistance programs and enter adulthood are supported, according to an article on app.com, a USA Today news website.
Introduced by Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey and Democrat Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, the bipartisan bill has a Senate counterpart that was introduced by New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming.
If passed, the House bill will authorize over $1 billion in funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) over five years, says an NJBiz article, reauthorizing the law through 2024. Funding for the CDC will be used for developmental disability surveillance and research. At HRSA, funding will cover education, early detection and intervention and NIH funding will cover the expansion and coordination of autism-related activities, according to an article on Insider NJ.
The Insider NJ article noted that the bill also requires Health and Human Services to report to Congress on the progress of activities related to autism and other developmental disabilities as well as the “health and well-being” of individuals on the autism spectrum. In addition, it amends the Public Health Service Act to reflect the need for “research, surveillance, education, detection, and intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder of all ages.”
According to Insider NJ, a widespread coalition of autism and disability advocate organizations support the bill. As Amy Rohrer, the mother of an 18-year-old son with autism, said in the app. article, “It’s so needed. It’s kind of scary as a parent, not knowing who’s going to take care of your children when you’re not around to take care of them.”