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What is the Autism Cares Act?
Autism CARES Act

There’s a lot to learn about healthcare in the United States, especially when your family’s medical needs are unique. For families of children with autism, resources and truly helpful services can still be scarce depending on where you live. Thanks to ongoing awareness and political activism- legislation has been put in place to help reform the help and services people on the spectrum receive.

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act of 2019 is the latest iteration of that legislation and serves as the primary source of federal funding for autism research, services, training and monitoring. In this post, we’ll discuss what the Autism CARES Act is, how it came to be, and what it entails.

A Brief History

The foundation of the Autism CARES Act began with a line of legislation known as the Combating Autism Act. That act sought very specifically to secure federal funding dedicated to autism research. It was reauthorized several times to extend the funding for 5 years, and when the time came to reauthorize the act in 2014, some changes were made. Originally called the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014, the act was renamed and passed into law in 2014, becoming the Autism CARES Act. This change expanded the law to include more overall support for education and services for people on the spectrum. The 2019 iteration is its most recent.

What the Act is Meant to Accomplish

The act first and foremost is meant to be a way for medical research and services focused on autism to be a priority on a nationwide scale. The funds secured within the law will continue to support the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Those federal funds are dedicated to autism focused efforts which help those organizations continue to break ground in autism research and give more and more families access to the services they need.

What Effect Does the Act Have Today?

On top of the federal organizations that receive dedicated funding from the act, it also currently supports several programs around the country focused on supporting high quality services to families with members on the autism spectrum. It is also supporting the effective training and hiring of medical professionals who administer those services. 

Beyond its more tangible effects, the Autism CARES Act helps set a precedent for future legislation, while also keeping autism on the minds of leaders in both the public and private sectors.

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January 25, 2020

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