Autism – Wandering Bill Passed by the Senate

Kevin and Avonte’s Law passed the full Senate on December 21, 2017 with amendments by voice vote. The Arc supports this bipartisan legislation that assists in locating persons who wander from safe environments and expands the program to include new support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. It also allows Justice Department grants to be used to develop training and emergency protocols, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander because of their condition. Kevin and Avonte’s Law has now passed the Senate as a standalone bill (S. 2070) and it also has passed the Senate as the Grassley-Klobuchar-Tillis-Schumer amendment to the House-passed Federal Register Printing Savings Act (H.R. 195). The next step is for the House to pass it again with the Senate amendment consisting of Kevin and Avonte’s Law before it can go to the President for his signature.

Autism – Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Wandering Bill

Kevin and Avonte’s Law of 2017 (S. 2070), sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), was marked up by the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed by unanimous voice vote on November 16. Senator Grassley’s amendment to pay for the bill by moving to a digital format instead of print for the Federal Register publication was approved. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes an existing program that assists in locating persons with dementia who wander from safe environments and expands the program to include new support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. It also allows Justice Department grants to be used to: develop training and emergency protocols, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander because of their condition. Click here for a statement from Senator Grassley on the markup.

Autism – Wandering Bill Reintroduced

Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Mike Doyle (D-PA) reintroduced Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4221) on November 2. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes an existing federal program that assists in locating persons with dementia who wander from safe environments and expands the program to include new support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It allows Justice Department grants to be used to develop training and emergency protocols, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander because of their condition. According to recent data, 27% of children with ASD, intellectual disability, and/or developmental delay are reported to wander from safe settings each year. In 2016, the House and the Senate both approved Kevin and Avonte’s Law. However, last minute changes attempting to address concerns over privacy and cost offsets required the legislation to return to the Senate. The Congress ended before another vote was held. The Arc supports this legislation and appreciates that the problematic provisions are not included in the new bill.

Autism – Kevin and Avonte’s Law Passed by House, Stalls in Senate

After being amended and passed by the House of Representatives on December 8, Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4919), stalled in the Senate. This bill would provide grant funds to state and local law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations for education, training, and technology to help prevent and reduce the harm from wandering (or “elopement”). The Arc dropped its support and now opposes the bill after two last minute changes were made: 1) A “pay for” from the Department of Justice’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program was added to cover the estimated $7 million cost over a five year period, and 2) language was added on the allowable uses of tracking device data that raises civil rights concerns. The measure would need to be reintroduced in the 115th Congress that begins in January.

Autism – Transition Report Released

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, “Youth with Autism: Roundtable Views of Services Needed During the Transition into Adulthood.” GAO studied (1) the services and supports transitioning youth with ASD need to attain their goals for adulthood, (2) the characteristics of these services and supports, and (3) how youth with ASD can be fully integrated into society. To address these objectives, GAO convened a roundtable discussion including adults with ASD, service providers, researchers, and parents of youth with ASD. Among these panelists was The Arc’s Board member, Dena Gassner. The panel described the services and supports that youth with ASD may need to help them achieve five goals for adulthood: postsecondary education; employment; maximizing independent living; health and safety; and maximizing community integration.

Autism – Wandering Bill Clears the Senate

The Senate passed S. 2614, Kevin and Avonte’s Law, by unanimous consent on July 14. This bill, sponsored by Senators Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), would provide grant funds to state and local law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations for education, training, and technology to help prevent and reduce the harm from wandering (or “elopement”). The Arc supports Kevin and Avonte’s Law and encourages our members to thank their Senators and reach out to their Representative about the House bill, H.R. 4919, during the long summer recess. Click here for more information.

Autism – Autism Committee Seeking Comments on Strategic Plan

The federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) that was reauthorized by the Autism CARES Act of 2014 is looking for comments from people with autism, family members, service providers, advocates and other interested parties as it gears up for its 2016 update. Comments should be related to the seven key topics traditionally addressed by the panel: 1) screening and diagnosis, 2) underlying biology of autism, 3) risk factors, 4) treatments and interventions, 5) services, 6) lifespan issues, and 7) surveillance and infrastructure. Click here to submit comments by the July 29 deadline.

Autism – New Report on Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Released

The federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) released its Research Portfolio Analysis Report for 2011-2012.  The report tracks funding and trends for research-related projects by the IACC’s seven strategic objectives: screening and diagnosis, biology, risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, lifespan issues, and infrastructure and surveillance. The report found that combined federal and private investment in autism spectrum disorder research decreased from 2010 ($348.6 million) to 2011 ($299.9 million) and then increased in 2012 ($331.9 million). Proportionately, most autism research funding — 30 percent in 2012 — went toward studies focusing of the biology of the disorder, followed by research on risk factors and treatments and interventions. At the bottom end of the scale are spending on research looking at services (7%) and lifespan issues (1%) in 2012, both of which decreased from the prior year.

Autism – Wandering Bill Clears Senate Committee; Introduced in House

 

On April 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Kevin and Avonte’s Law of 2016 (S. 2614), passing the bill out of committee by a vote of 15 to 5. The measure, sponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Thom Tillis (R-NC), adds children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities to an existing program to provide education, training, and technology to help prevent and reduce the harm from wandering. On April 13, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced Kevin and Avonte’s Law in the House (H.R. 4919).

Autism – Federal Health Program to Require Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Coverage

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that all health plans within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – which covers federal employees, retirees and their dependents – must include ABA therapy starting next year. “OPM has now determined that appropriate coverage of ABA treatment by all plans/options is necessary,” according to a letter sent to insurance carriers. “Therefore, for the 2017 plan year, carriers may no longer exclude ABA for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We expect all carriers to offer clinically appropriate and medically necessary treatment for children diagnosed with ASD,” the letter states. This directive is a victory for advocates who have fought for years for ABA to be recognized as an evidence-based treatment by insurers. To date, legislation has been passed in 43 states requiring at least some insurance plans to cover ABA