Landmark Legislation Authorizing Nearly $1 Billion in Autism Funding to be signed into law within 10 days
(NEW YORK, NY - December 7, 2006) - Leadership of Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now, nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, today praised members of the United States Senate for swift passage of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843). The bill was passed yesterday in the United States House of Representatives.
The bill authorizes nearly 1 billion dollars over the next five years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention. The new legislation will increase federal spending on autism by at least 50 percent. It includes provisions relating to the diagnosis and treatment of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and expands and intensifies biomedical research on autism, including an essential focus on possible environmental causes. Autism is now diagnosed in 1 in 166 children according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"The passage of this landmark single-disease legislation signals the federal government's declaration of war on the epidemic of autism," said Jon Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now and Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal in a joint statement. "Seeing this bill become law will be the next best thing to finding a cure."
The Senate bill was sponsored by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The bill has the support of all major autism advocacy groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.