September 18, 2019

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Autism Legislation to Address Challenges ‘Across the Lifespan,’ Continue Critical Research

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored legislation, led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), that shapes federal autism policy and prioritizes investment in research, early detection, and the development of new treatments and therapies for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. The Autism Coordination, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act of 2019 builds upon the current law, which expires at the end of September, to include language to ensure efforts to address the challenges and needs of individuals with autism extend well into adulthood and “across [their] lifetime.”

“Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, who deserve the same level of committed, comprehensive care and support. The reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act will not only fund crucial research, education and treatment efforts for children on the autism spectrum, but will also extend a much-needed lifeline to the thousands of adult Nevadans living with a developmental disability. This legislation is another step towards ensuring all Nevadans have the support they need to build a future full of potential and fulfillment.”


One in 59 children nationwide have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the latest study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last year, a jump of 15% since the previous study was conducted in 2016 and up from one in 166 in 2005. 

The bipartisan Autism CARES Act of 2019 affirms Congress’ commitment to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities and their families. In addition to reauthorizing existing federal autism programs through 2024, Autism CARES 2019 strengthens existing programs by adding the phrase “across the lifespan” where appropriate to ensure they can address the needs of individuals with ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout all stages of life. The provision builds upon key elements of the Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act that were incorporated in the 2014 law to address the needs of youth and young adults as they transition out of school-based support to independent adulthood.

Autism CARES 2019 also:

  • Authorizes research under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address the entire scope of autism spectrum disorder;
  • Designates regional centers of excellence for ASD research and epidemiology;
  • Directs activities to increase public awareness of autism, improve the ability of health providers to use evidence-based interventions, and increase early screening and detection;
  • Authorizes $23.1 million to the CDC for developmental disability surveillance and research;
  • Authorizes $50.6 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for education, early detection, and intervention, and allows HRSA to prioritize new grant applicants in rural or underserved areas;
  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide a report to Congress on the health and well-being of individuals of all ages with ASD and other developmental disabilities.