The following legislative update has been prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the nation's voice for persons with a brain injury
TBI Stakeholder Meeting with the Department of Health and Human Services
On Tuesday, June 9, BIAA staff and other TBI stakeholders met with leadership from the Department of Health and Human Services to discuss elevating the Federal TBI State Grant Program and Protection and Advocacy Program from Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) to the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
In the reauthorization of the TBI Act, which was signed into law in November 2014, discretion was given to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on which agency should administer the program. The TBI stakeholders believe the Administration for Community Living is the proper home for the TBI program because its mission is to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers. Individuals who have sustained a TBI need continued supports and services across the lifespan. By elevating the TBI program, stakeholders anticipate State agencies and Protection and Advocacy organizations would be better able to coordinate with and leverage programs and resources at the state and federal levels to improve services to individuals with brain injury and their families.
In addition to the federal agency leaders and staff and stakeholder organizations, Alyssa Penna, legislative director for Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.), who is co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, attended the meeting.
Pascrell, Rooney Amendment to Restore $25M to TBI Program Passes House of Representatives
On Wednesday, June 10, the House of Representatives passed an amendment offered by U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Caucus, to the 2016 Defense Appropriations Act that would restore $25 million from the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research Program. The defense appropriations bill cuts $25 million from the TBI program, representing a decrease of 20% from last year's funding level.
The Psychological Health and TBI Research Program supports the DOD Psychological Health and TBI Center of Excellence in its efforts to educate service members and their families, enhance clinical and management approaches, and facilitate other vital services to best serve the needs of our service members impacted by TBI and psychological health problems. TBI continues to be the signature injury among our nation's service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 300,000 troops have been diagnosed with mild TBI since 2000, a number that continues to increase as identification and detection methods become more accurate.
National Institutes of Health Names Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
On June 11, National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the selection of Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., as the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He has served as Acting Director of the NINDS since October, 2014.
In announcing the appointment, Dr. Collins recognized Dr. Koroshetz' role in the creation of the StrokeNet, a national clinical trial network for research in stroke treatment, prevention, and recovery as well as his role as point person for traumatic brain injury research at the NIH, and Co-founder of the NIH-Uniformed Services Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (TBI research center).
Dr. Koroshetz serves as co-chair of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. He was instrumental in establishing the NIH Office of Emergency Research. He is the NINDS representative to the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee; Chair of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and the NIH Pain Consortium, and Co-chair of the Common Fund Undiagnosed Disease program.
As the new Director of the NINDS, Dr. Koroshetz will oversee an annual budget of $1.6 billion and 1141 scientists, physician-scientists, and research administrators. The Institute supports research by investigators in public and private institutions across the country, as well as by scientists working in its intramural laboratories and branches in Bethesda, Maryland. Since 1950, the Institute has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts in brain research, with studies in areas ranging from the structure and function of single brain cells to research on the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and, most recently, the translational research that is helping to bridge the gap.
Before coming to NIH as the NINDS Deputy Director in 2007, Dr. Koroshetz was a Harvard Professor of Neurology, Vice Chair of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Director of Stroke and Neurointensive Care, and a member of the Huntington's disease unit. He was also a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and led neurology resident training at MGH from 1990 until 2007. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Koroshetz graduated from Georgetown University and received his M.D. from the University of Chicago. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and in both internal medicine and neurology at MGH, after which he did postdoctoral studies in cellular neurophysiology at MGH and the Harvard neurobiology department.
NINDS is the nation's leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.
NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.