Here is this week's legislative update which has been prepared by the Brain Injury Associaiton of America:
Legislative activity related to traumatic brain injury policy ensued on numerous fronts this week, as Congress made progress on several bills before leaving town for a week-long July 4 recess beginning on Monday.
Progress on appropriations occurred this week on the Senate side, as the full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and approved its Fiscal 2009 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education funding bill.
Meanwhile – on the other side of the Capitol - as marked up on the Subcommittee level last week, the House Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Appropriations funding measure contains increased funding for some federal TBI programs. Unfortunately, this bill was not approved by the full House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, as a major breakdown in the Committee’s markup process occurred as a result of partisan disputes. The fate of all House appropriations bills are now uncertain.
Progress on several important bills not related to appropriations also took place this week. On Thursday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved provisions contained in S. 2921, The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act. BIAA has strongly supported and endorsed this legislation, which was recently introduced by Sen. Clinton (D-NY), and would strengthen supports for family caregivers of returning servicemembers with TBI.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 3195) with strong bipartisan backing by a vote of 402-15. Earlier in the week, BIAA formally endorsed this legislation, which is designed to strengthen protections for individuals with disabilities originally enacted through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.
Also this week, the Senate approved a compromise version of the war supplemental funding bill, readying the legislation for president’s expected signature. This legislation contained a moratorium – strongly supported by BIAA - on the implementation of several harmful Medicaid regulations.
Finally, the House and Senate were unable to agree on a final Medicare package, which would have prevented deep cuts beginning on July 1 in Medicare payment rates for physicians. Negotiations on such a package are expected to continue when Congress resumes session on Monday, July 7.