$1.8B Autism Funding Bill to Expand Access to Services

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act — or the Autism CARES Act — has been reauthorized for another five years.

President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Sept. 30. It authorizes more than $1.8 billion in federal autism funding for 2020 through 2024.

The money will help finance autism programs and trainings, as well as autism research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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The CDC will receive $23.1 million annually, while HRSA will get $50.6 million per year. Meanwhile, NIH will receive a whopping $296 million annually, up about 64% from what the institute was granted each year in autism funding for the past five years.

The new law updates the Autism CARES Act of 2014, expanding access for adults and those in rural areas.

Previously, those with autism aged out of support services when they turned 21. But the Autism CARES Act of 2019 expands government autism programs and research to include adults, in addition to children, who the Autism CARES Act has historically prioritized.

In fact, the updated law mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services release a new report on the health and well-being of people with autism “across their lifespan” in the next two years. It must include best practices for interdisciplinary care coordination and improved health outcomes, as well as recommendations in a number of other areas.

Another key change ushered in by the Autism CARES Act of 2019: HHS will be able to prioritize autism funding grants in rural and underserved areas to improve access to resources there.

Finally, the new law expands the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that offers HHS guidance and input on autism-related issues. It adds two new members to the committee — one on the federal side and another on the advocacy side.