2018 Advocacy Highlights
December 31, 2018
Through strategic partnerships and the support of the autism community, the Autism Speaks Advocacy Team pursues policy solutions for individuals across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan. This year, we worked to:
Increase global understanding and acceptance of autism.
- Over 70 advocates from across the country joined us in Washington D.C. on April 25 for our Congressional Hill Day and Champions Lunch where we honored our legislative champions.
- The White House lit blue for the second year in a row.
- With participation from Autism Speaks, the Indian Health Service hosted its first Autism Awareness Interagency Roundtable.
- The Advocacy Ambassador Program celebrated its one-year anniversary. Volunteer Ambassadors helped strengthen relationships with 78 U.S. Senators and over 130 U.S. Representatives.
Be a catalyst for life enhancing research breakthroughs.
- The Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill increased funding for the National Institutes of Health by 9% and continued funding for autism programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.
- The Fiscal Year 2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill provided wins for autism research and services including budget increases for the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources & Services Administration, and continued funding for autism activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.
Increase early childhood screening and timely interventions.
- Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was extended until 2027.
- New CPT codes were approved for ABA services through our work on the CPT Steering Committee.
- Medicaid reimbursement rates for ABA professionals were increased, benefitting families who were having difficulty finding providers to serve them.
- The Departments of Labor, HHS, and Treasury provided guidance under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, singling out ABA as a treatment for autism that in many cases must be covered.
- Improved coverage of autism across the US!
- Idaho became the 47th state to require meaningful autism insurance coverage.
- North Dakota became the 48th state to require meaningful autism insurance coverage.
- Utah removed the sunset provision on its 2014 autism insurance bill.
- Georgia raised the age cap on private health insurance coverage from age 6 to 20.
- Kentucky removed all age and dollar caps from the state autism insurance mandate. Coverage in the individual and small group markets had been limited to $1000/month.
- All major health insurers in Mississippi agreed to stop enforcing the "age 8" cap in the autism insurance mandate.
- The following employers are among some of the self-funded companies that agreed to cover ABA: Exxon/Mobil, Publix, Gensler, FedEx, Wipco, Humana, BB&T, TECO, Volvo Penta, Citizen’s Bank, Spectrum, Charter Communications, FIS and Genetech.
Improve outcomes for transition-age youth.
- California enacted legislation to create and fund the “Breaking Barriers in Employment for Adults with Autism Pilot Program” in the counties of Sacramento and Los Angeles.
- Georgia enacted Georgia's Employment First Act, promoting employment as the first and preferred option offered to people with disabilities receiving government funded services.
- North Carolina funded a high-tech autism employment pilot program.
- The US House Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled, “Ready, Willing, and Able to Work: How Small Businesses Empower People with Developmental Disabilities."
- The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was reauthorized, helping to increase access to education and employment opportunities for people with autism and other disabilities.
- The Congressional Autism Caucus hosted a briefing on the challenges and opportunities to improve law enforcement interactions with the autism community.
- Oklahoma added $2 million to its budget to address the wait list for Medicaid home and community-based services.
Ensure access to reliable information and services throughout the life span.
- The RAISE Family Caregivers Act was signed into law, supporting family caregivers and the millions who rely on them.
- The Kansas Organ Transplant Anti-Discrimination bill was signed into law.
- Kevin and Avonte's Law passed through the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill to safeguard those who may wander away from safety.
Many thanks to advocates like you who take action on behalf of the autism community!