Congressmen Doyle and Smith Introduce the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014

May 13, 2014 Issues: Autism Caucus, Education, Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 13, 2014 – Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) recently unveiled bipartisan legislation to renew the nation’s programs for the early detection, surveillance, research, education, awareness and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for another 5 years.

“I’ve been working with Chris Smith and various stakeholder groups to develop a reauthorization bill for federal autism programs,” said Congressman Doyle, who with Congressman Smith founded and co-chairs the bipartisan Coalition on Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.). “The latest autism numbers are simply astounding, and it is imperative that Congress continues to address Autism Spectrum Disorders. Without reauthorization, funding for all federal autism programs will cease on September 30th, 2014. Congress simply must pass this common-sense legislation before then.”

“We need to work overtime to build on the successes the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 is producing for individuals with autism and their families,” said Congressman Smith. “This is a critical investment that is working to determine the cause of ASD, identify autistic children as early as possible to begin treatment, and producing better awareness, new therapies and effective services. The quality of life of many children is at stake, as it is with young adults who age out of the support services in educational systems.”

"Autism Speaks commends Representatives Smith and Doyle for their bipartisan leadership in spearheading this more aggressive federal response to autism," said Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. "The prevalence of autism has soared 123 percent since the first Combating Autism Act was passed and the federal response has struggled to keep pace. Autism is the fastest growing neuro-developmental disorder in the country. The CAA provides a framework to meet the needs of the autism community."

"We commend Congressman Smith and Congressman Doyle on their leadership and commitment to maximizing the quality of life for all diagnosed with autism through their introduction of this bill to reauthorize the Combatting Autism Act," said Scott Badesch, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “They are true heroes within the autism community.”   

Currently, approximately 1.5 million individuals in the United States have Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent data shows a continued increase in autism prevalence rates: 1 in every 68 American children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls). The range and severity of symptoms of autism vary from case to case, but symptoms often include difficulties in communicating and interacting with other individuals and exhibiting repetitive behaviors and intense interests in specific subjects.

Most federal autism programs were first authorized by the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006, which provided funding for research related to autism spectrum disorder, early identification of autism, and promoting early intervention. The Combating Autism Act has made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of autistic Americans and their families.  

Congressmen Smith and Doyle introduced the legislation that reauthorized the CAA programs (The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, or CARA – now Public Law 112-32) for 2012, 2013 and 2014. CARA included $22 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program; $48 million for Autism Education, Early Detection, and Intervention; and $161 million for hundreds of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.  

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014, H.R. 4631, would reauthorize the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act programs at NIH, CDC, and HRSA for an additional five years, through September 30, 2019. The bill has 35 bipartisan co-sponsors.
            
H.R. 4631 adds key reforms to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and safeguards to the funding allotted in the bill to ensure coordination is maximized and the taxpayers’ dollars are spent efficiently.  It further increase accountability but requiring HHS to designate an individual charged with implementing IACC’s annual strategic plan and report to Congress how they are doing so.

The bill would also require the Government Accountability Office 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 ASD.

Representatives Doyle and Smith are the founders and co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Autism Research and Education (CARE).  CARE has consistently worked to increase federal support for autism initiatives, including autism programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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