The Election Is Over. Now What?

Thursday, November 8, 2012 View Comments

by Shelley Hendrix, Director of Grassroots Development

The election is over. Now what?

90 days ago, we began the 1 in 88 Can’t Wait campaign. Since that time, about 12,000 more Americans have been diagnosed with autism.

That’s 12,000 new children whose parents are seeking answers for medical treatments and therapies that will help them. Another 12,000 people joining wait lists for doctor visits, treatment centers, service providers and Medicaid waivers.

Autism doesn’t take a break for the holidays. It doesn’t have a Lame Duck session. It doesn’t conduct business as usual until it is sworn into office. 

Our community understands that autism is an urgent public health crisis. Over the next couple of months, we need to continue our 1 in 88 Can’t Wait campaign to ensure that our family members, friends and most importantly, our elected officials, understand that as well.

There are 74 days until January 21, 2013 when Barack Obama will be inaugurated to serve a second term as President of the United States and newly elected members of the 113th Congress will be sworn into office. Over those 74 days, another 10,000 Americans will be diagnosed with autism. 

President Obama will oversee the National Institutes of Health, which conducts research for the autism community.

President Obama will oversee the Department of Health and Human Services, which will determine how the states carry out the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that behavioral health treatment be a part of the essential health benefits all health insurance exchange plans must cover.

President Obama will also oversee the Centers for Disease Control, which now experiences a 12-year lag in accurately counting and reporting the numbers of children diagnosed with autism.

President Obama will also oversee the Department of Defense, which severely limits healthcare coverage for people with autism who are dependents of our veterans and wounded warriors.

President Obama will oversee the Department of Labor and its efforts to ensure better job training and job opportunities for our adults with autism who come of age as adults over the next four years. 

President Obama will oversee Medicaid for our population as they age, and oversee housing policies for people with autism and other disabilities. Will we make progress?

From a federal-based perspective, we have two active pieces of legislation before Congress to pass into law during the Lame Duck session before the end of the year – the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and legislation that would help our military families obtain better health insurance coverage for autism.

We have a lot to do. Our 1 in 88 can’t wait. Reform measures take time. They don’t call these things Acts of Congress for nothing. We must unite this community. We must unite our voices.  We can make a difference and we can make change, but that change that we all want to see will come faster when we work together. We can do that. We just have to make a commitment to ourselves and our children that we will.

The Autism Votes advocacy program makes it easy for you to engage to affect change at the state and federal level for people with autism and their families. Sign up today at http://advocacy.autismspeaks.org/register and when we send you an email, take five minutes to open it then make the call, send the email and ask your friends to help you make a difference.