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.

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.

House Subcommittee Advances Combating Autism Reauthorization Act

On May 28, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 4631 that had been introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Michael Doyle (D-PA).   Changes in this latest version include adding a new autism position at the Department of Health and Human Services, increasing the number of non-federal members 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. During the markup, Representative Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, noted that two issues were outstanding for the full committee to address – determining which agency was responsible for conducting the transition study and renaming the law, which The Arc supports.   H.R. 4631 largely extends the research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training activities under the Combating Autism Act for an additional 5 years. Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Enzi (R-WY) are expected to introduce a Senate bill to reauthorize the law in the next couple of weeks.

House Subcommittee Markup Scheduled on the Combating Autism Act

On May 28, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is scheduled to markup H.R. 4631, the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act. H.R. 4631 largely extends the research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training activities under the Combating Autism Act for an additional 5 years. It would, however, reform the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to promote greater coordination among federal agencies and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the existing landscape of services (federal, state, local government, and the private and non-profit sectors), conduct a survey of stakeholders, and make recommendations to enhance coordination, efficiency, and the value of the services currently provided to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Unfortunately, this bill does not include a name change. For more information on the House markup, see the Committee website.

Reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act Introduced in the House

On May 9, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4631) was introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ).   The bill largely extends the research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training activities under the Combating Autism Act for an additional 5 years. It does, however, include a few changes. The bill reforms the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to promote greater coordination among federal agencies. The bill also requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the existing landscape of services (federal, state, local government, and the private and non-profit sectors), conduct a survey of stakeholders, and make recommendations to enhance coordination, efficiency, and the value of the services currently provided to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Unfortunately, this bill does not include a name change. Learn more about the Combating Autism Act on The Arc’s website.

Reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act Sought

The Arc and other colleagues from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) are beginning to meet with key Hill staff regarding the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act (CAA).  While a number of federal autism spectrum disorder efforts were in existence prior to the Combating Autism Act, the law has dramatically increased the number, scope, pace, and coordination of ASD research, surveillance, public education, and professional training efforts.  If the law is not reauthorized by September 30, 2014 many of these expanded activities authorized under the law will expire.  A recent Congressionally mandated report describes the work being done through activities supported by federal agencies and highlights the progress that has been made under the CAA.  Among its many notable achievements are an increase in the number of infants screened for ASD (or to rule it out and get the appropriate diagnosis) and improvements in the proportion of children diagnosed by age three.