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What is the Autism CARES Act 2019 that Trump Signed?
What is the Autism CARES Act?
On September 30, 2019 Trump signed into law the Autism CARES Act that secures funding for autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support. The bill is actually an extension of an existing law that originated in 2006 that has now been extended for another 5 years ensuring that all of the programs covered by the act will continue.
People and organizations who depend on the funding were concerned as Trump waited until the last minute to sign the expiring act that was unanimously passed by the House and Senate. But thankfully the measure was signed and $1.85 billion has been secured for autism-related programs including autism research, training, early detection, and treatment.
Where Will the Money Go?
The funds will be spread out annually between 2020 and 2024 for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) programs and centers across the country, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
In addition, there are a few provisions to the autism law that include attending to the needs of all individuals with autism regardless of age, prioritizing funding for rural areas, increasing the number of autism parent, self-advocate, and group representatives on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, and requiring officials from the Departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Labor, and others to join the committee.
The new provisions indicate that the needs of underserved autistic populations are finally being acknowledged as it specifically mentions “youth and adults from diverse racial, ethnic, geographic, or linguistic backgrounds” as well as the aforementioned changes that address the needs of older people with autism who are often overlooked, misdiagnosed, and underdiagnosed.
The 2019 Autism CARES Act funding is 42% more than the previous bill signed into law in 2014 by President Obama for $1.3 billion.
Autism in America
The current study on autism by the National Survey of Children’s Health reported that 1 in 40 children in the US have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, making it more important than ever that research receives funding – especially when the study showed that children born in the US are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than any other country.
The November 2018 study also revealed that boys are 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed, rates are higher among low-income families, and are 44% more likely to have difficulty receiving mental health treatment.
Autism rates have increased over the past 10 years in the US and as the number of people diagnosed increases it’s good to know that the government is allocating funds to support autism-related projects and research.