Clinton’s plan would push states to require insurers to cover autism services and would boost enforcement of laws requiring equal coverage of mental health services.
The plan also calls for a nationwide early screening outreach campaign, expanding employment and housing opportunities for individuals with autism, and asking Congress to ban the use of physical and chemical restraints to protect children from abusive treatment in schools.
“Too many American families are staying up at night worrying about their family members, especially children, who are living with autism. There is more we can do,” Clinton said in a statement.
More than 3.5 million Americans are believed to have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Clinton’s plan would also direct the CDC to conduct the nation’s first population survey of adults on the autism spectrum. The survey would be a “landmark” for autism research because much of the field is focused disproportionately on children, said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, during a media call hosted by the Clinton campaign.
The proposal, which Clinton will discuss during an Iowa town hall today, follows her plan last month to increase National Institutes of Health funding for Alzheimer’s research by $2 billion per year.
The campaign did not estimate the cost of the autism proposal but said increased funding for research would be the largest budget item. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the campaign plans to announce in the coming weeks a more comprehensive plan to increase NIH spending, which will include funds for autism research.
Clinton’s calls for additional NIH support come shortly after the agency received a sizable $2 billion funding boost in the year-end budget deal. The House has approved even more funding for the medical research agency under separate 21st Century Cures legislation approved last summer.