On Autism Awareness Day, Tester & Daines Support Health and Research Funding

Senators back the Autism CARES Act to fund research, services, training, and monitoring for people with autism

(U.S. Senate) – On Autism Awareness Day, Montana U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines announced their support for legislation to fund autism research, care, and education.

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act reauthorizes existing federal autism programs through 2024 and helps ensure that individuals with autism and other developmental and intellectual disabilities have access to care throughout their lives.

“Families of children with autism shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll be able to access the care they need,” Tester said. “These programs have provided critical, wide-ranging services to Montanans with autism, funded research for future generations, and given providers the tools and training they need-and we’ve got to ensure that can continue.”

“I’ve listened to the fears that parents of children with autism have expressed for their children’s future,” Daines said. “This legislation will provide certainty to states like Montana that rely on programs to help serve the diverse needs of Montanans with autism and their families. These programs also help train health care professionals to provide family-centered healthcare services across the state. As we celebrate National Autism Awareness Month, I’ll continue fighting to ensure that those with autism and their families have the tools and support they need to thrive.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States, and medical expenses for children and adolescents with autism is 4-6 times higher on average.

The Autism CARES Act authorizes $23.1 million to the CDC for research and surveillance of developmental disabilities. It also authorizes $50.6 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration for education, early detection, and intervention and allows the agency to prioritize new grant applicants in rural areas.

Tester has been a strong advocate for people with disabilities. He previously supported the Autism CARES Act when it was reauthorized in 2012 and introduced the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access in public schools.

Earlier this year, Tester met with Helena Special Olympian Cody Kuhlman about how to best support those with intellectual disabilities.

Last week, Tester slammed the Department of Education for threatening to cut funding for the Special Olympics program and denounced the Trump administration’s choice to back a court ruling that would scrap the Affordable Care Act, which provides healthcare to thousands of Montanans.

April is World Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day.