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Brain Injury Legislative Update

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has issued the following legislative update which they have requested that I share with you:

After a busy week focused on a variety of legislation, including unsuccessful efforts to achieve final passage of the war supplemental appropriations bill and a budget resolution conference agreement, Congress is now in recess until Monday, June 2, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

BIAA issued a Legislative Action Alert on Fiscal Year 2009 TBI appropriations this week, despite the fact that Congress failed to successfully pass a final budget resolution.  BIAA urges advocates to make contact with their representatives in Congress - and if possible, schedule a face-to-face meeting while they are in their home districts this next week – and urge them to increase appropriations for federal TBI programs.

On Wednesday, May 21, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on pending health care legislation, including S. 2921, The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act, which BIAA has strongly endorsed.  BIAA submitted a Statement for the Record for the hearing urging the Committee to swiftly approve the bill, which would strengthen supports for family caregivers of returning servicemembers with TBI.

Also this week, BIAA distributed an issue brief to Capitol Hill staff  highlighting the need for TRICARE to officially cover cognitive rehabilitation.  The information paper was accompanied by a summary of the research supporting the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in treating brain injury.

In addition this week, on May 22, 2008, BIAA submitted official comments to the Department of Education on the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research’s (NIDRR) Proposed Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2010-2014.  BIAA’s comments were based on a coalition letter which BIAA signed on to as well, but also included BIAA’s individual recommendations for future research priorities.

BIAA Submits Statement for the Record to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

On Wednesday, May 21, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on pending health care legislation, including S. 2921, The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act, which BIAA has strongly endorsed.  BIAA submitted a Statement for the Record for the hearing urging the Committee to swiftly approve the bill, which was introduced by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and would increase support for family caregivers of servicemembers with TBI.  Several recommendations made by BIAA during the legislative drafting process were incorporated into the bill. 

The bill would require two pilot programs to be implemented through the Department of Veterans Affairs, improving the resources available to those caring for returning servicemembers with TBI. 
In the Statement for the Record, BIAA President and CEO Susan H. Connors noted, “Family care is the most important source of assistance for people with chronic or disabling conditions, including people with brain injury.  Yet, research has found that all too often, the traumatic brain injury of a spouse or close relative places extreme stress on family caregivers, frequently resulting in negative physical and emotional outcomes for the caregivers themselves.”

View a copy of BIAA’s Statement for the Record on S. 2921

Also this week, BIAA distributed an issue brief to Capitol Hill staff highlighting the need for TRICARE to officially cover cognitive rehabilitation.  The information paper was accompanied by a summary of the research supporting the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in treating brain injury.

BIAA’s issue brief makes a compelling argument for making cognitive rehabilitation an official benefit within TRICARE, arguing that “A clear clinical consensus has developed recognizing the importance of providing cognitive rehabilitation to patients with TBI, and servicemembers suffering from TBI resulting from deployment deserve nothing less than the appropriate level of care based on currently accepted and widely used treatment modalities.”

View a copy of BIAA’s Issue Brief on Cognitive Rehabilitation & TRICARE.

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