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Brain Injury Legislative Update

The following brain injury legislative update has just been issued by the Brain Injury Association of America:

110th Congress Enters Its Last Week of Session; FY09 Appropriations Action Looms:

The 110th Congress is expected to be in session for the last time next week, and along with the potential bailout of the automobile industry, it appears that appropriators in both chambers are working on conference negotiations for the Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09) funding bills.

This week, amidst informal word that Appropriations Committees were indeed conferencing the FY09 Labor-HHS-Educations funding bill, BIAA joined other stakeholder organizations in circulating a sign-on letter calling for increased funding for TBI programs in FY09.  The timeline for final action is unclear at this point, but “public statements imply that the Democratic leadership wants all FY 2009 appropriations bills finished and on President Obama’s desk shortly after his inauguration on Jan. 20th so that he does not have to deal with unfinished business from the 110th Congress” (The Coalition for American Trauma Care Washington Report, 12/05/08).
The brain injury stakeholder letter urges appropriators to adopt the highest possible funding levels for TBI programs contained in the respective House or Senate versions of the bill.  Specifically, the letter states, “As negotiations on the spending bills for Fiscal Year 2009 continue, we urge you to adopt the funding levels for the Department of Health and Human Services traumatic brain injury (TBI) programs as recommended by the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Committee language and funding levels for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).” 

BIAA also issued a Legislative Action Alert to its grassroots this week, urging the highest possible funding amount for TBI programs to be enacted. 

BIAA Welcomes New Members of Congress

In recent weeks, BIAA and its state affiliates have sent letters to newly elected Members of Congress welcoming them to Washington.

In the letters, BIAA congratulates these newly elected United States Representatives and Senators on their victories, and provides them with a brief overview of the massive national public health issue which brain injury represents.  The letters also contain information on the leading role BIAA continues to play in advocating for improvements in public policy related to brain injury, and urge the new Members of Congress to join the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

CDC Issues New Prevalence Estimates for TBI

Last week, the Centers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new prevalence estimates for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. 

Reflecting the use of more conservative methodology, the CDC determined that although the annual incidence estimate has not changed (1.4 million individuals), the annual prevalence estimate for long-term TBI-related disability has decreased (from 5.3 million individuals to 3.2 million individuals).

BIAA issued a public statement in response to these new estimates and circulated this statement to members of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.  BIAA made a special effort to note to Congressional offices and staffers that changes in the estimated prevalence of TBI are NOT indicative of any change in the annual incidence of TBI in the United States.

In its public statement, BIAA asserted, “The Brain Injury Association of America reminds advocates, clinicians, researchers, policymakers and the public that the 3.17 million people living in the U.S. with a long-term disability are unique individuals whose lives are forever changed by their injuries and who need and deserve ongoing specialized rehabilitation, lifelong neurological disease management and individualized services and supports in order to maximize their health, independence and happiness.”

IOM Issues New Report on Long-Term Effects of TBI

On Thursday, December 4, BIAA was represented at a briefing at the National Academy of Sciences, where the Institute of Medicine issued a new report titled, “The Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asked the IOM to determine long-term health outcomes associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). 

The IOM committee reviewed more than 30,000 titles and abstracts of scientific and medical articles related to TBI and health outcomes, as well as the full text of more than 1,900 peer-reviewed articles.
The Committee detailed numerous health effects that are associated with penetrating TBI and mild, moderate, and severe closed TBI.

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