The following update was prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America:
As this year comes to a close, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) would like to thank you for your support during 2008 - a year which included many accomplishments in advocacy on behalf of individuals with brain injuries and their families. Chief among these accomplishments, of course, was successful reauthorization of The Traumatic Brain Injury Act!
Yet, as we reflect during this holiday season on the advocacy achievements we are thankful for this year, we also know that much more needs to be done to improve brain injury care and services in this country.
BIAA is uniquely positioned to carry this important message into 2009, and to the incoming Obama Administration, as well to continue its leading advocacy role on Capitol Hill, urging the nation's lawmakers to adequately address the public health epidemic of brain injury.
Last week, BIAA was invited to meet with members of the Obama Administration transition team to discuss disability and health care policy issues, as well as to share BIAA's leading public policy priorities. On Tuesday, December 16, BIAA's President and CEO, Susan Connors, and BIAA's National Medical Director, Dr. Gregory O'Shanick, represented the organization at this meeting.
They communicated to the members of the Obama team that BIAA's chief public policy concern centers on improving access to health care for survivors of brain injury. Specifically, Ms. Connors and Dr. O'Shanick described how every day, hundreds - perhaps thousands - of brain injury suvivors are depived of the acute care, rehabilitation, and related services they need to regain maximum function and quality of life after their injury. They further explained that this is largely due to the widespread use of unfair and unjust tactics by health insurers, such as inconsistent pre-admission policies, arbitrary limits on scope and duration of care, outright coverage denials, absurd payment rates, and capricious post-treatment audits. The hope was expressed to the Obama team that any effort to reform the nation's health care system must address these delays and denials of access to care, as our nation is needlessly increasing permanent disability among people who sustain brain injuries.
Ms. Connors and Dr. O'Shanick also discussed with the Obama team the importance of maintaining and increasing the health and function research portfolio, including the TBI Model Systems of Care program, within the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), as well as the need for TRICARE to officially cover cognitive rehabilitation for returning servicemembers.