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.

Senate Briefing on Wandering (also known as elopement) by Persons With Autism

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is sponsoring a briefing on “Elopement in Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders” on Tuesday, May 19th from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm EDT in the Russell Senate Building, Room 485. Speakers will include: Scott Badesch, President/Chief Executive Offi­cer, Autism Society of America; Robert Lowery, Jr., Vice President, Missing Children Division, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; Scott Martin, Director, SafetyNet Division of LoJack Corporation; former State Police Captain (Retired), Connecticut State Police; and Lori McIlwain, Co-founder & Board Chairperson, National Autism Association.   This briefing aims to raise awareness of the problem of wandering and how law enforcement agencies are responding.

TRICARE Autism Demonstration Program Launched; Rate Cut Delayed

On Sept 19, The Department of Defense’s TRICARE program published its new Autism Care Demonstration guidance.  While the program includes several improvements, it also includes a nearly 50% reduction of reimbursement rates for board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) delivered therapy and more. The program was subsequently launched on Oct. 20; however, after strong opposition from advocates, the BCBA reimbursement policy has been delayed by 180 days. Learn more at Autism Speaks.

Autism CARES Signed by President Obama

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by President Obama. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for an additional five years and makes a number of improvements to it. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by the age of three, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention. The new law continues these efforts and makes the following improvements – a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self-advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth.For more information on the accomplishments of the prior legislation see, “Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010-FY 2012)”.

Autism CARES Is Law

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by President Obama. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for an additional five years and makes a number of improvements to it. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by the age of three, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention. The new law includes continues these efforts and make the following improvements – a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth.For more information on the accomplishments of the prior legislation see, “Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010-FY 2012)”.

Senate Passes Autism CARES Act

Late on July 31, the Senate unanimously passed “Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2014” or the “Autism CARES Act” (S. 2449), sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) . The bill reauthorizes the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 for an additional five years. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has advanced the science and practice in the autism field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts.   The new measure will continue these efforts and includes a number of welcome changes: a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self-advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth. For more information on the accomplishments of the Combating Autism Act, visit the HHS website.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Clarifies Medicaid Coverage of Autism-Related Services

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an information bulletin outlining options for Medicaid to provide children with coverage of autism-related services. The bulletin discusses the opportunities and associated requirements for covering services under a variety of authorities including the Medicaid EPSDT mandate.  The bulletin does not require states to cover the services but clarifies how states can cover the services if they choose.  View the information bulletin.

Autism CARES Act Passed by House of Representatives, Action Pending in Senate

On June 24, the House passed a bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act – now renamed the Autism CARES Act (H.R.4631) – by voice vote. The bill was brought up on the suspension calendar, meaning no floor debates or amendments. The Senate bill (S.2449), was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee the next day. It is expected to be considered by the full Senate in early July. This legislation extends research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training activities for an additional five years. The Arc strongly supports the CARES Act. Learn more about these efforts at http://iacc.hhs.gov.

Senate Introduces Bill to Reauthorize Combating Autism Act; Committee Advances House Bill

On June 9, a bipartisan reauthorization bill (S. 2449) was introduced in the Senate by Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Enzi (R-WI). The Senate bill is identical to the House bill, except that it includes a name change – the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act. The Arc, along with our coalition partners, advocated for replacing the title with one that uses respectful language. On the same day, the Energy and Commerce Committee quickly approved the House bill. See our coalition statement on the CCD website.

House Committee to Take Up the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act Today

The Energy and Commerce Committee will begin consideration of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act Today. The Committee will consider an amendment in the nature of a substitute to HR 4631 introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Michael Doyle (D-PA).   This latest version included a few changes, including a new autism position at the Department of Health and Human Services, increasing the number of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and studying the needs of children with autism as they transition to adulthood, as well as the services available to them. See our support letter signed by 33 national disability organizations. The House reauthorization bill extends the research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training activities under the Combating Autism Act for an additional five years. Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Enzi (R-WY) are expected to introduce a Senate bill to reauthorize the law as soon as this week.