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Senators Clinton and Mikulski Protest Zero Funding for Traumatic Brain Injury Programs

Earlier this week I reported on the failure on the part of president Bush to seek funding for the federal Traumatic Brain Injury Program in his latest budget submitted to Congress. What follows is the correspondence sent by Senators Clinton and Mikulski to president Bush in protest.

February 12, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

During this time of war, we were deeply troubled to learn of your plan to eliminate the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration. As co-sponsors of legislation to improve the assessment, detection and treatment of TBI, as well as to expand support systems for members and former members of the Armed Services with TBI and their families, we are deeply concerned by the potential elimination of this program for all individuals affected by TBI. The TBI Program serves as a critical component of our efforts to address TBI across the country, and is an essential complement to our services for the significant number of servicemen and women returning from combat with TBI. We urge you to work with us, and other concerned members of Congress, to ensure full funding for the TBI Program in the HHS budget for Fiscal Year 2009.

Current estimates state that at least 5.3 million Americans have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of TBI, with 1.4 million Americans sustaining a traumatic brain injury each year. An extremely complex injury, TBI encompasses a broad range of symptoms and disabilities, creating severe strain on the individual and his or her family. Depending on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage, individuals with brain injuries vary greatly in their level of need, requiring access to a broad array of services.

Recognizing the large number of individuals and families struggling to access appropriate and community-based services for TBI, Congress authorized the Federal TBI Program in the TBI Act of 1996. The program assists states in operating coordinated services for individuals with TBI and their families, encouraging the replication of best practices, and improving state service delivery systems. Two-year planning grants allow states to build infrastructure, three-year implementation grants permit states to improve access to services, and additional implementation partnership grants allow increased flexibility to meet state needs to address TBI. Currently, 47 states receive TBI grants.

In addition to the acute medical needs of individuals suffering from TBI, families also have to address the social and emotional issues that come with diminished mental capacity. The nature of the disease has also changed over time; the needs of returning soldiers suffering from TBI present new strains on state service delivery systems. Now more than ever, we must provide states with the funding and support to provide effective, person-centered services to support individuals and their families. To cut funding now will jeopardize the ability of our health care system to address the needs of all Americans impacted by TBI. We urge you to reconsider this shortsighted decision, and join us in our efforts to restore full funding to the TBI program.

Sincerely,

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Barbara Mikulski

I urge all my readers to lend their voice to the calls to restore funding to the TBI programs.  Please write and call the White House and your congressional representatives as soon as possible.

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