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This week's brain injury legislative update

The Brain Injury Association of Americas has requested that I publish this week's brain injury legislative update:

Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Awareness Day on Capitol Hill

On Wednesday, BIAA participated in a day-long awareness day on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. 

During the first event of the day, the Brain Injury Awareness Fair, BIAA manned an exhibit inspired by always creative BIA of Wyoming.  The brain injury "empathy experience" allowed both members of Congress and their staff to participate in several activities that simulated some of the long term effects associated with experiencing brain injury.

With over 45 exhibits, this year's fair proved to be the best attended yet!  Many of BIA's state affiliates and survivor advocates were able to participate making the day as a whole wildly successful.

The fair was followed by a briefing in the Cannon Caucus room pertaining to this year's theme, "From the Football Field to the Battlefield."  The speakers included, Chris Nowinski, Founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, Author, Former WWE Professional Wrestler and member of BIAA's board of directors.

The final event of the evening, the Congressional reception, honored the hard work of both Congressman Pascrell and Platts, as co-chairmen of the Task force for their dedication to further education and awareness of brain injury and their support for funding for basic and applied research and access to brain injury care.

Brain Injury Awareness Month Resolution

On Monday the House adopted by voice vote, H.Res.178, a resolution expressing the need for enhanced public awareness of traumatic brain injury and support for the designation of a National Brain Injury Awareness Month.  Several Congressmen, including Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., Co-Chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force were on hand to extend comments on the house floor regarding the importance of this issue.

In conjunction with the House Resolution, President Obama issued a proclamation officially designating March as Brain Injury Awareness Month.  This show of support from both the House of Representatives and the Executive branch is unprecedented in recent years.  BIAA has worked tirelessly with the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force to ensure its success.

Appropriations Update

This week, both House and Senate Budget Committees adopted budget resolutions creating the framework for this year's spending bills. 

Although both plans largely adhere to the priorities that President Obama laid out in February, they also scale back some of his spending and tax measures for fiscal year 2010, with the House proposing $7 billion less in discretionary spending and the Senate trimming about $15 billion.

Notably, the House resolution, adopted late Wednesday night, contains reconciliation instructions for legislation to implement President Obama's health and education policies. More specifically, these provisions would allow Congress to move both an overhaul of the health care system and changes to education programs through the budget reconciliation process, a fast-track procedure that limits debate and bars filibusters in the Senate. The Senate resolution includes no similar provisions.

The President's full budget, including a detailed appendix that would include specific programs, is expected to be revealed next month. Congress will then review the proposed spending levels for these individual programs in order to begin assembling FY10 Appropriations measures.

BIAA will continue to monitor these developments and take action accordingly.

National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) Policy Conference

On Thursday, BIAA participated in the first annual NASHIA Policy Conference.  The conference focused on various healthcare reform proposals and their impact of those with Traumatic Brain Injury.  The conversation revolved around both civilians and veterans who need access to a range of both acute and post-acute rehabilitation along with other support services.

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