Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Is Vaccine Debate Diverting Attention from the Real Risks to People with Autism?

When you hear "Trump" and "autism," you may first think about the president's support for debunked myths that vaccines cause autism. But the uproar over that issue maybe detracting from the real concern -- the harm that will be caused by repealing protection in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), according to health policy experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services at the University of Pennsylvania.

In a column posted today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors point out that the ACA has expanded access to health insurance for low-income people in 31 states and the District of Columbia by expanding the Medicaid program -- the largest health care payer for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

One of the authors, Colleen Barry of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "These rollbacks could be devastating for children and adults with autism and other disabilities. It is important not to let the controversy over the debunked link between vaccines and autism distract from what is at stake in terms of the potential loss of critical benefits this vulnerable group relies on."

The authors are also concerned about threats to the rights of students with disabilities. Barry said, "People who care about preserving and expanding services for children and adults with autism need to pay attention to the conversations in Washington around the ACA repeal and threats to IDEA to make sure important protections and guarantees are not lost."

Read "Care for Autism and Other Disabilities -- A Future in Jeopardy."
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