NEW YORK, NY (April 2, 2009) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded the introduction of the groundbreaking Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (ATAA).
Originally drafted by then-Senator Barack Obama and introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), ATAA is comprehensive federal legislation that addresses several critical challenges facing the autism community, including increased funding for scientific research, treatment and services. The ATAA incorporates provisions from the Expanding the Promise of Individuals with Autism Act (EPIAA) originally proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
A key section of the bill requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASDs), including coverage of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy a medically-necessary, evidence-based autism treatment and assistive communication devices. In most states, insurers are currently allowed to specifically exclude coverage for these critical services, which can cost upward of $50,000 a year well beyond the means of most families.
'Autism Speaks is proud to have worked closely with Senators Durbin and Casey on this legislation, which represents a remarkable leap forward in the federal governments commitment to addressing the challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families." said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of Government Relations. "The insurance reform section of the bill, in particular, will have an enormous impact by finally requiring insurers to cover therapies that are literally causing families across the country to go broke as they try to provide their children with the services they need and deserve."
To help address the unique needs of adults with ASDs, the bill would create a demonstration project with one-year planning grants and multi-year implementation grants for the provision of service for adults with autism. These services would address important issues such as education and employment, housing, nutrition and wellness, social activities, and transportation and personal safety.
A National Network for Autism Spectrum Disorders Research and Services would be created to maximize existing autism treatment and service capacity and to strengthen linkages between autism research and services initiatives at the federal, regional, state, and local levels. The network would act to expedite the dissemination of critical data and evidence-based or promising practices. These initiatives are aimed at accelerating the dissemination and utilization of critical, new information, moving it from bench to bedside as quickly as possible.
The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act would codify important commitments made by candidate and now-President Obama to support individuals with autism, their families and communities, said Bob Wright, co-Founder of Autism Speaks. Now it is incumbent on our Congressmembers and Senators to step up and support this legislation, which has the potential to dramatically and directly impact the millions of Americans whose lives have been affected by this disorder.
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