Autism Community Urges House to Pass First-Ever Autism-Specific Legislation
Cure Autism Now congratulates bill sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) as well as the other members of the U.S. Senate for passing the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (S.843). The landmark Act, which authorizes $900 million for autism-specific funding, now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval before it can be signed into
law. Once signed, the Act will join a short list of “single-disease” legislation – the most notable being the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act for HIV/AIDS.
“This is a tremendous victory for the entire autism community,” says Jonathan Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now and parent of a child with autism. “The Combating Autism Act serves as an acknowledgment that autism is a national public health crisis and will, if signed into law, allocate desperately-needed funding for research, screening, intervention and education.”
The legislation would not have passed the Senate without the stewardship of Senators Santorum and Dodd and the efforts of Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY), Bill Frist (R-TN) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Several leading autism organizations formed a coalition to advance the Act by collaborating with legislators and mobilizing families across the country to focus the nation's attention on this epidemic that now affects as many as one in 166 children.
The Act represents years of dedicated effort by parents and families, bringing legislative action to confront the crisis of autism. The history of this important piece of legislation began with Cure Autism Now's grassroots leadership of the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, which later became Title 1 of the Children's Health Act of 2000. The Combating Autism Act that passed the Senate today, which began as a reauthorization of the autism section in the Children's Health Act, was originally drafted by a Cure Autism Now volunteer and parent of a child with autism.
“The Combating Autism Act will dramatically improve the state of autism research and treatment and have a direct impact on the lives of those struggling to cope with autism today,” says Peter Bell, president and CEO of Cure Autism Now, also the parent of a child with autism. “This important legislation will dedicate significantly more funding to help us understand the biology of autism and pave the way towards best practices for diagnosing and treating autism. We urge the House to pass this legislation and bring help and hope to the 1.5 million Americans with autism.”
For more about the Combating Autism Act of 2006, visit www.combatautism.org.