Chris Smith’s Autism CARES Act of 2019 Signed into Law

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Major autism legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to authorize $1.8 billion over five years to help children and adults with autism by funding research, early detection and treatment was signed into law by President Trump.

Smith said the “comprehensive new law,” cosponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) “will fund critical biomedical autism research as well as the develop- ment of best practices to enhance the lives of persons with autism. We need answers now and treatment options and interventions that work,” he said.


authorizes $1.8 billion—including annual funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $296 million, the Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention (CDC) at $23.1 million, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at $50 million.

  • reauthorizes and expands the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
  • adds new members of IACC from the Departments of Labor, Justice, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development
  • increases from two to three IACC members who are self-advocates, parents or legal guardians and advocacy/service organizations
  • empowers the Health and Human Services Secretary to prioritize grants to “rural and underserved areas” and requires that not later than two years after enactment, a comprehensive report on the demographic factors associated with the health and well-being of individuals with ASD, recommendations on establishing best practices to ensure interdisciplinary coordination, improvements for health outcomes, community based behavioral support and interventions, nutrition and recreational and social activities, personal safety and more.

“Aging out of services is a hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces,” Smith said. “Children grow up and become adults, and then lose their education and support services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and young adults with autism continue to need their services. The Autism CARES Act recognizes the problem of aging out and ensures that the federal government continues to help hundreds of thousands of young adults with autism and their parents by funding research and support programs.”Smith stepped up his involvement on autism issues in September of 1997, when two constituents, Bobbie and Billy Gallagher of Brick, N.J., parents of two young small autistic children—walked into his Ocean County office looking for help. The Gallagher’s continue to this day to work with Smith on autism advocacy issues, including the aging out problem.