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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton Announces Autism Service Initiative

After gleefully thanking her Iowa precinct captains here at a town hall Tuesday, Hillary Clinton bulked up her steadfast commitment to improving health care issues, rolling out her new autism initiative.
article by KYLIE ATWOOD | CBS NEWS | January 5, 2016
She asked the room how many of them knew someone with autism or Alzheimer's disease and spoke directly to them.

"Well, you know what a burden it is. An emotional, physical burden," Clinton said, adding, "Boy, is it hard for caregivers." She explained that hardship is why she wants to create a tax credit for caregivers as part of her effort to help families dealing with autism.

The Democratic front runner has laid out a number of health-focused plans as part of her campaign. Last month, she was in Iowa to roll out her proposal for a $2 billion annual research fund to find the cure for Alzheimer's. Other focal points of her campaign include efforts to expand the Americans with Disabilities Act and reduce drug costs. She has also committed to defending the Affordable Care Act.

The autism initiative has a number of layers including: boosting screening, improving treatment by pushing private insurers to cover autism services, increasing research and creating a graduate program for those with autism to help them find employment.

There are more than 3.5 million Americans on the autism spectrum, and one in every 68 children in the United States was identified as having Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As a country, we must make a priority of supporting the millions of Americans with autism, and their loved ones. My plan takes a comprehensive approach by boosting screening, improving treatment, and expanding employment and housing opportunities for those with autism," Clinton said of her new plan. "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 identified the need to focus on this issue early on, and it has strengthened her support in the state.

For example, Jennifer Herrington, a mental health and social worker from southwest Iowa, had coffee with Clinton almost a year ago during the candidate's listening tour which launched her presidential campaign in the spring of 2015. Herrington works at a private mental health center and she fought -- though unsuccessfully -- against Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's decision to close the health care facilities in the state. So when she sat down with Clinton, she specifically addressed the need to address the mental health issues in the state.

"When she said that she spent the first few months of the campaign really listening to the Iowans, that is so true, that is not just rhetoric," Herrington explains. She knows a handful of folks that have become Clinton supporters. "With her campaign, mental health is finally getting the attention that it deserves."

There are some, however, who are still not sold on Clinton's plans. Michael Moore, an undecided Democratic caucus goer, was at the Sioux City event, and he is one of them.

"I was hoping to hear some more details, and I don't know if what she is proposing is realistic to get passed in Congress right now," Moore explained. "I don't know how they are going to sit at the table together with some of the abrasive terms that she has used against them. I would like to see a softer tone to take on these issues, in my opinion."

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