Autism Information

Monday, October 06, 2008

Combating Autism Act of 2006 Highlights

If you're not familiar with this bill, here is a little background on it and what it can do to help. This bill was passed by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The landmark Act, which authorizes $900 million for autism-specific funding, now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval before it can be signed into law. Once signed, the Act will join a short list of "single-disease" legislation -- the most notable being the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act for HIV/AIDS.

If it gets signed into a law, it will benefit a lot of people. Here are the highlights of the said bill to give you a clear insight.
  • Allocates approximately $900 million in spending on autism over the next five years. This is approximately double what would have been spent with straight-line continuation of existing programs.
  • Authorizes a 50% increase in spending for biomedical research in autism from the $100 million which the NIH currently claims to be spending.
  • Creates a legal requirement for Centers of Excellence in Environmental Health and Autism, to research "a broad array of environmental factors that may have a possible role in autism spectrum disorders." These Centers are authorized with funding of $45 million over the five-year life of the bill.
  • Requires the director of NIH to develop and implement a strategic plan for autism research and a budget to fund this plan, taking into account recommendations of a public/private committee (the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) which it requires to include at least one-third public members, including a person with autism and a person who is the parent of a child with autism. This new authority and accountability makes the director, in effect, the "autism czar."
  • Provides grant programs for states to develop autism screening, early diagnosis and intervention programs for children -- perhaps the most important thing that could happen, short of a cure.


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