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$19 Million at Risk for New Autism Research

September 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC (September 19, 2012) -- The key federal agencies responsible for funding core autism research, treatment and surveillance programs face an across-the-board 8.2 percent budget cut in January, according to an analysis issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If enacted, the automatic cut could eliminate more than $18.9 million in new federal funding for autism programs.

The analysis was issued in response to an automatic $109 billion cut in the federal budget that will take effect in January unless Congress and the White House can agree on more targeted cuts to specific programs. The budget reductions were mandated under last year's Budget Control Act.

Among the agencies affected would be the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds autism research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which monitors the prevalence of autism in America, and the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which helps fund the Autism Treatment Network. A total of $231 million for autism initiatives has been authorized in the new federal budget; an 8.2 percent cut would reduce that amount by nearly $19 million.

"While it is not yet clear which programs would be directly affected within those agencies, there is grave concern that autism programs would be among those cut to reach the reduction specified in the Budget Control Act of 2011," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks' executive vice president for programs and services.

The 2011 law requires a total of $109 billion in budget cuts, split equally between defense and domestic spending. All funding for autism falls within the discretionary spending portion of the budget and therefore is subject to cuts.

The federal government in the current budget, which expires September 30, appropriated $238 million for autism initiatives, $7 million above the amount authorized under the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act.