Monday, May 18, 2009

National Front: Autism Treatment Acceleration Act

Author's note: Since my last post was about health insurance for autism therapies and coverage in Michigan, I thought I'd pass along this article that was emailed to me by the Autism Society of America (I am a member). As the wheel has just started to roll, I'm sure I'll have more than a few posts about State and National level autism-related legislation in the future.

From Autism Society of America:

"Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (ATAA) Introduced in U.S. House

On May 14, the Co-Chairs of the Coalition on Autism Research and Education, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), along with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2009 (ATAA). This is a companion to the bill of the same name introduced in the Senate in April. The Autism Society applauds this comprehensive autism legislation focused around enhancing the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

The Autism Society especially applauds the inclusion of support services for adults on the autism spectrum in this bill. Currently, the federal government provides for educational services until age 21; however, autism is a lifelong disorder, and when the school bus stops coming, individuals and families are often left to fend for themselves.

ATAA creates a demonstration project to provide an array of services to adults with autism spectrum disorders, including: postsecondary education; vocational and self-advocacy skills; employment; residential services, supports and housing; nutrition, health and wellness; recreational and social activities; and transportation and personal safety.

The legislation also would provide for the establishment of a national network in order to
strengthen linkages between research and service initiatives at the federal, regional, state and local levels, and facilitate the translation of research on autism into services and treatments that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. A national data repository would be created to share emerging data, findings and treatment models."

Two other key aspects of the bill are:

1. setting up a national training initiative on autism and a technical assistance center to develop and expand training and education on autism spectrum disorders; and

2. requiring health insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, assistive communication devices and other effective treatments.

My thoughts: It is good news that bills addressing autism are being introduced at the state and national levels. I just now discovered that Colorado now has a great possibility of being the eleventh state to have legislation addressing autism and health insurance coverage. A bill is on the way to the governor's desk. Other good news is the state government in New Jersey is also working on similar legislation.

However, there are many such bills such as those in Michigan, that have not passed yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Here is a link to commentary that was written last month by State Senator Tupac Hunter regarding coverage in Michigan.

May 25 update: Here is a link to an article about legislation that just passed in Nevada.

1 comment:

Mark Schmidt said...

Show your support for ATAA. Visit the web site: www.autismtreatmentaccelerationact.org