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This week's traumatic brain injury legislative update

I am pleased to reproduce the  brain injury federal legislative update prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America.

In reviewing this update, I was pleased to see the call by the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force for the inclusion of brain injury rehabilitation benefits in armed forces TRICARE coverage.  Let's hope that further efforts are taken to mandate brain injury rehabilitation benefits in ALL policies of health insurance.  The failure on the part of the health insurance industry to offer these benefits prevents meaningful recovery even after a life is saved.  Often the costs fall on the taxpayer for funding through Medicaid.  This I believe is not only unfair but amounts to Medicaid fraud on the part of health insurers who refuse to provide funding for this care or at times terminate care based upon unreasonable assessments which conclude with the statement that the patient is either not improving or not making sufficient improvement to warrant further treatment.  These statements are based upon models and instruments never developed for the purposes to which insurance carriers use them.  Brain injury rehabilitation can never be measured like rehabilitation for a broken bone, yet this is the model that our insurance carriers are using.  We need federal legislation to correct these insurance company abuses.

Here is this week's update:

As this week’s legislative activity came to a close, Congress was struggling to deal with the crisis facing the nation’s financial markets, and the legislative calendar for next week remains fluid.

Although Congress was expected to adjourn next Friday, September 26, it remains unclear right now whether that adjournment date will hold.   Further, with the anticipated addition of new legislation next week to address the crisis in the financial services sector, it seems even more likely than ever that Congress may return in November after the election to conduct a lame duck session.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, several developments regarding federal brain injury policy occurred this week.
The Co-Chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) sent a letter, signed by over 60 House members from both parties, to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging TRICARE coverage of cognitive rehabilitation.

Also this week, the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force held a well-attended briefing featuring a presentation by BIA of Oklahoma Vice President Michael Paul Mason, a brain injury case manager and author of Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath.

In addition, BIAA joined several other TBI stakeholders this week in circulating organizational sign-on letters to gather support from other advocacy groups in urging key appropriators to provide increased funding for federal TBI programs.

Finally, the House of Representatives passed, and cleared for the President’s expected signature, The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 3406) on Thursday, September 18.  This legislation to clarify and update the Americans with Disabilities Act has been widely supported by disability advocacy organizations, including BIAA.



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