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Adults with autism need CLASS alternative, advocate says

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The head of an autism group is asking Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., for ideas about who might help him create a new long-term care (LTC) program aimed at adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Burton, the grandfather of a child with autism, is set to retire at the current session of Congress.

Dan Burns, chair of the Autism Trust USA, says in a letter addressed to Burton that he would like to create an alternative to the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program (CLASS Act) provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The CLASS Act — a program created by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. — was supposed to have created a voluntary long-term care (LTC) benefits program that could have helped adults with autism, Burns writes.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has declined to implement the CLASS program. She has said that she does not believe the program can meet a financial sustainability requirement included in the act.

But, as Sebelius has acknowledged, “the need for long-term care for developmentally disabled adults has not gone away,” Burns says. 

The new CLASS alternative program “might be a reworking of the Act, or something else entirely,” Burns says. 

Burns asks in the letter whether Burton has any ideas about who else in Congress might take ownership of autism issues.

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