HEADs UP Act is introduced in the US House of RepresentativesMay 25, 2023
On May 16, new legislation was introduced in Congress to help achieve better health outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD), including those with autism. US Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-06) and Joseph Morelle (D-NY-25) introduced the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs UP Act) to help people with I/DD receive the care they deserve and benefit from improved health outcomes, increased longevity and enhanced quality of life.
Why is the HEADs UP Act (H.R. 3380) important?
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including those with autism, experience poorer health, shortened life expectancies and lack access to even the most basic forms of care when compared to the non-disabled population.
According to a recent study by Autism Speaks researchers, children with autism are nearly four times as likely to have unmet health care needs when compared to children without disabilities. Other studies have also shown that adolescents and adults similarly have significant unmet health care needs. They also experience poverty at higher rates than the non-disabled population. Moreover, individuals with autism often lack access to even basic primary care services because providers are not properly trained to treat them.
What does the HEADs UP Act do?
The HEADs UP Act (H.R. 3380) aims to improve access to behavioral, medical and dental care for individuals with I/DD. The bill directs the Health Services and Resources Administration to designate people with I/DD as a Medically Underserved Population under programs authorized in the Public Health Services Act. This designation would make a number of government programs available to people with I/DD, providing access to new primary care and specialist services, incentivizing new research and authorizing more favorable reimbursement rates for providers of this population.