Autism CARES Act of 2019 Signed into Law
Major autism legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to authorize $1.8 billion over five years to help children and adults with autism by funding research, early detection and treatment was signed into law today by President Trump.
Smith said the “comprehensive new law,” cosponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) “will fund critical biomedical autism research as well as the development of best practices to enhance the lives of persons with autism. We need answers now and treatment options and interventions that work,” he said.
Specifically the Autism CARES Act of 2019:
Smith said that Autism CARES expands government programs to include older persons with autism “who were—and are—often misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed and overlooked.”
According to Drexel University’s AJ Drexel Autism Center, about 70,700 to 111,600 children “age out” into adulthood each year creating challenges for education, housing, employment and access to health care.
“Aging out of services is a hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces,” Smith said. “Children grow up and become adults, and then lose their education and support services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and young adults with autism continue to need their services. The Autism CARES Act recognizes the problem of aging out and ensures that the federal government continues to help hundreds of thousands of young adults with autism and their parents by funding research and support programs.”
Smith stepped up his involvement on autism issues in September of 1997, when two constituents, Bobbie and Billy Gallagher of Brick, N.J., parents of two young small autistic children—walked into his Ocean County office looking for help. The Gallagher’s continue to this day to work with Smith on autism advocacy issues, including the aging out problem.
“The Autism CARES Act is yet another hard-won victory borne out of Congressman Smith’s and his colleagues’ dedication to the autism community and bipartisan collaboration,” said Suzanne Buchanan, Executive Director of Autism New Jersey. “Their work across the aisle and tireless efforts to retain critical components of the legislation remind us what is right and good about our federal government. Individuals with autism and their families are a federal priority, and the Autism CARES Act is a smart investment that will help individuals with autism today and for generations to come.”
Smith is grateful to the more than 35 non-governmental organizations that have endorsed his legislation, including the Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, Autism New Jersey, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Children’s Hospital Association, the National Council on Severe Autism, Congress and the National Down Syndrome Society. Smith introduced the bill February 7, and addressed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Health Subcommittee on June 25.
PHOTO: Cong. Smith and Bobbie and Billie Gallagher from Brick, NJ, at 2014 press conference at the SEARCH Day Program, a school for kids with autism in Ocean Twp., Monmouth County. The school hosted the event to show support for autism legislation Smith had introduced in Congress that would be passed into law later that year.
Smith has also authored three other autism laws: HR 4631, the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Education (CARES) Act (PL 113-157) in 2014; HR 2005, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA)(PL 112-32), in 2011; and HR 274, Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research, and Epidemiology Act (ASSURE) of 2000 (PL 106-310) included as part of the Children’s Health Act in 2000.