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Brain Injury Legislative Update

The following is this week's brain injury legislative update, prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America  (BIAA)

Health Care Reform Update

Lawmakers are now developing policy options that could become part of the national health care reform, but currently no legislation has been introduced and there are no specific bills to support or oppose. In anticipation of both proposed and final legislation, BIAA has adopted five guiding principles (below) designed to aid Congress in drafting language that would increase access to treatment for individuals with brain injury.

Guiding Principles:

1. Recognize brain injury is a disease.
2. Focus on medical necessity.
3. Provide access to the full treatment continuum.
4. Use accredited programs, interdisciplinary team of qualified/specialized clinicians, and appropriate treatment settings based on patient and family choices and aspirations.
5. Hold private insurers accountable for the premiums they collect; avoid Medicare/Medicaid as first option for coverage.

These principles are explained in a Brain Injury Health Care Pledge that can be signed and supported by members of congress who want to make sure that the unique needs of those with brain injury are addressed in the final health care plan. Our goal is to encourage all Representatives and Senators to sign this pledge to raise awareness and understanding of how proposed policies could impact people with brain injury, family members, researchers and clinicians. 

On May 6, 2009, BIAA circulated an action alert that included the pledge in the body of the message advocates send to their Representatives and Senators. 

BIAA's full position paper explaining each guiding principle, an executive summary, and a detailed article from The Challenge! regarding our positions on health care reform can also be found  on our website

In support of BIAA's health care reform campaign, BIAA leaders and staff participated in several high level meetings in the House, Senate, and the White House to encourage support for these principles.

BIAA gained the support of the Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (Rep. Pascrell, Rep. Platts), who circulated a letter to their House of Representatives colleagues encouraging them to sign the Brain Injury pledge. BIAA will continue to reach out to members of both the House and the Senate to secure brain injury treatment in health care reform proposals.

Appropriations Update

President's FY10 Budget Proposal Released

TBI Act, Department of Health and Human Services

The White House proposes to sustain funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal TBI Program, which provides grants to state agencies and protection and advocacy organizations to improve access to health and other services for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their families. The President's plan proposes $10 million be allocated to HRSA, the same amount designated in FY09.

For the past three years, President Bush had proposed to eliminate the HRSA TBI Program funding in his budgets. BIAA applauds President Obama's decision to preserve this program, although still underfunded, so that we can continue to address the huge public health problem of traumatic brain injury

NIDRR, Department of Education

The President's budget proposal slates a $3 million increase for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDDR), going from $108 million in FY09 to $111 million in FY10. Although BIAA is thrilled about this increase, we will continue to advocate for increased funding for the TBI Model Systems of Care as the appropriations process advances this summer.

BIAA submits FY10 testimony to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees

This week, BIAA submitted testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.  You can read the brain injury testimony 

The testimony detailed the importance of appropriating $37 million to preserve and advance TBI Act Programs, as well as the need to designate $13.3 to sustain and bolster health and function research -- including the TBI Model Systems of Care, Rehabilitation, Research & Training Centers; and field-initiated investigations---within the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

NIDDR Releases notice of proposed priorities for RRTCs and RERCs

This week the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services under the Department of Education proposed funding priorities for the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes four priorities for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) and three priorities for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs).

Notably, the proposed priorities for RRTCs include "Developing Strategies to Foster Community Integration and Participation (CIP) for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury." The goal of this priority is to develop a classification system based on symptoms experienced by individuals with TBI who are living in the community.

This classification system can be used to link the post-rehabilitation consequences of TBI with CIP-oriented interventions. Such a classification will allow practitioners and researchers to better match individuals with TBI with specific interventions, and to better characterize their study samples.

BIAA applauds the Assistant Secretary for proposing this priority and will continue to advocate in its favor.

BIAA endorses the Heroes at Home Act of 2009

This week, BIAA submitted a letter to the House Veteran's Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health urging consideration of the Heroes at Home Act of 2009 (HR 667). The bill would significantly improve support for family caregivers of returning service members with TBI and acknowledge the critical role played by family caregivers in facilitating recovery from brain injury and the pressing need for training, certification and financial compensation of caregivers.

BIAA will continue to advocate for the swift passage of this bill as the 111th Congress progresses.  The legislation currently has 36 cosponsors.

BIAA submits letter of endorsement for the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act of 2009 (conTACT)

BIAA submitted a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee encouraging swift passage of the conTACT Act of 2009 (HR 1347), applauding the bill's proposal to provide grants to states to  ensure that elementary and secondary schools implement concussion management guidelines by funding computerized pre-season baseline and post-injury neuropsychological testing for student athletes.

BIAA will continue to track the progress of this measure and will advocate on its behalf.

BIAA Urges Cosponsorship of the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act

On April 22, 2009, BIAA circulated an action alert targeting House Members to cosponsor the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act of 2009 (HR 1483). The bill would promote discoveries and accelerate the development of new and safer treatments for brain-related illness, injury and disease. 

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