House votes to reauthorize autism support programs

The House on Tuesday gave voice vote approval to legislation to reauthorize federal autism research and assistance programs for five years.

The current three-year authorization of autism research and support programs expires Oct. 1. 

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"It seems every time new data is realized on autism spectrum disorders, the numbers become more and more troubling," said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who sponsored the legislation with Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

"This is why passage of the Autism Cares Act today is so important to continue research into the causes of autism," Doyle added. "We can and must do better for the millions of Americans living with ASD and their families."

A provision in the bill as amended during a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup would require the Health and Human Services secretary to assign a deputy to oversee federal autism research and services and ensure programs are not duplicative. 

The language came in response to a Government Accountability Office finding last year that 84 percent of current autism research projects have potential to overlap.

Autism advocacy support groups, including Autism Speaks, have endorsed the measure.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the legislation would cost $1.3 billion over fiscal 2015 to 2019.

Elise Viebeck contributed.

 

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