U.S. House Passes Historic Investment in Home and Community-Based Services
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $150 billion investment in home and community-based services (HCBS) as a part of the Build Back Better Act. This historic increase in funding comes after months of advocacy where autistic individuals, their families, and many others across the disability community and country made their voices heard in support of this significant increase. Autism Speaks advocates’ collective action resulted in congressional offices receiving 14,000 letters supporting additional funding.
The vital supports that HCBS provide, including in-home services and community day programs, are critical to ensuring that many autistic individuals can live, remain safe, and participate in their communities. Unfortunately, this system has been under strain for many years because of a lack of financial support, which has resulted in long waiting lists and provider shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The historic investment will go a long way to help address challenges that have made accessing home and community-based supports difficult for many autistic individuals.
“This is a potentially game-changing investment in the health and well-being of autistic individuals and others with disabilities in this country,” said Stuart Spielman, Senior Vice President of Advocacy for Autism Speaks. “While there’s no doubt that challenges will remain even after the legislation is signed into law, the $150 billion investment will serve as an extraordinary and historic leap forward in our efforts to ensure autistic individuals across the spectrum and lifespan are able to access the services and supports that they need. We urge the Senate to preserve this vital funding at the same or higher levels as it takes up the Build Back Better Act in the coming days.”
In addition to the $150 billion in funding to support HCBS services provided by states, the Build Back Better Act also includes additional funding to increase the number of direct support workers who provide in-home and community-based supports. There are a number of other components of the legislation that would benefit autistic individuals and their families, including but not limited to:
- A new paid family and medical leave program, providing up to 4 weeks of paid leave for eligible individuals
- A $161 million investment in personnel development for educators serving students with disabilities
- $10 billion to expand eligibility for free school meals
- $10 million for assistive technology
- $25 million to fund initiatives to address the behavioral health needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- $500 million for supportive housing for people with disabilities
- Permanent authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Build Back Better Act now moves to the Senate for its consideration. Autism Speaks will continue to monitor its progress and fight for priorities that benefit autistic individuals and their families. We will provide additional updates on HCBS and other important provisions as the legislative process continues.