Autism Speaks hailed Congress’ vote on a new federal budget bill that appropriates over $230 million for continued autism research, including the first appropriations under the newly reauthorized Combating Autism Act (CAA).
The funding includes $47.7 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), $21.38 million for the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and funding to be allocated through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The portion NIH designates for autism research is expected to be close to the prior level of $161 million. Congress also approved a $5.1 million appropriation to continue autism research within the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We're seeing significant appropriations under the CAA in a most difficult fiscal climate, showing bipartisan understanding within Congress of the national public health importance of autism,” said Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services. “The funding through the Defense Department is also gratifying, raising the total allocated to this vital program over $35 million.”
The CAA was reauthorized for another three years by Congress and signed by President Obama on Sept. 30. The funding approved Saturday by Congress maintains the new appropriations for HRSA and CDC at their FY2011 levels, withstanding cuts that affected many other federal programs. Both the HRSA and CDC appropriations could be subject later in the year to an across-the-board 0.189 percent reduction affecting all health programs.
The appropriation for the Defense Department’s Autism Research Program (DoD-ARP) for Fiscal Year 2012 was cut slightly from previous levels, but the program was continued as part of federal autism research efforts. DoD-ARP is administered as a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), similar to current programs for breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Research that is funded under CDMRP is peer-reviewed, benefits from the direct input of consumer advocates, and is targeted to the most innovative, promising research in the field.