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Two Bipartisan HELP Committee Bills Clear Senate, Head to President’s Desk

Autism CARES Act and Improving Trauma Care Act Will Be 15th and 16th Bipartisan HELP Committee Bills to Become Law in 113th Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The bipartisan Autism CARES Act and Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014 will be the 15th and 16th HELP Committee bills to become law this Congress, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Committee, announced today. The Senate cleared the measures last night and both bills were recently passed by the House of Representatives.  ‎

“The HELP Committee is charged with improving and supporting our country’s public health. The enactment of the Autism CARES Act and the Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014 carries out that important goal and continues the Committee’s record of bipartisan cooperation on important legislation,” Harkin said. “Protecting and improving our public health goes beyond partisanship, and I am grateful to my colleagues on the HELP Committee and in the Senate for their commitment to these issues and to seeing that these bills become law. With Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, I am proud to lead the most productive committee in the Senate.”

The Autism CARES Act, which reauthorizes and improves upon the programs in the Combating Autism Act, is sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Chairman Harkin. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in 68 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder– with a prevalence of one in 42 boys. It was approved by the HELP Committee in June 2014. Read more about the bill here.

Trauma is the leading cause of death in the United States for individuals aged 44 and younger.  According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma accounts for 41 million emergency room visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions across the country each year.  Current statutory definitions of trauma are inconsistent and outdated. Most notably, current law defines trauma in a way that excludes burn injuries, preventing burn centers from being able to apply for funding made available under trauma and emergency care programs.  The Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014, sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Chairman Harkin, will modify and update the federal definition of trauma to include burns, which will reflect the relationship between burns and other traumatic injuries. The Committee unanimously approved the bill at an executive session last week.

Under the leadership of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), sixteen bills in the HELP Committee’s jurisdiction will have become law in the 113th Congress when these additional bills are signed by the President. Read more about those bills here.