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Brain Injury Legislative Update

This week's brain injury legislative update has been prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA):

Health Care Reform Update

On June 9, 2009, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a draft health care reform bill.  In summary, the draft would expand Medicaid eligibility to those with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, impose federal tax penalties on most individuals failing to purchase coverage, mandate a public plan option, require employers to provide coverage or pay into a pool, and stiffen regulation of private health insurance plans.

Importantly, the plan eliminates life-time insurance caps as well as provides for the establishment of a medical advisory council that will submit a report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services including recommendations on essential health care benefits eligible for credits which includes rehabilitative services. In issuing the report, the council will ensure that the recommendations take into account the needs of diverse segments of the population including persons with disability.

The HELP committee plans to begin considering this bill on June 16, 2009.  BIAA will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

NIDRR Grant Forecast

This week, The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) announced it will include two TBI grant programs in its forecast for 2009. 

The first grant application notice, rehabilitation research and training centers (RRTC) on traumatic brain injury interventions, will be available on June 30, 2009, while the second, RRTC on developing strategies to foster community integration and participation for individuals with traumatic brain injury will be available on July 24, 2009.

BIAA will report on the details of these applications when they are released.

Coalition for Regenerative Stem Cell Medicine update

As part of the Coalition for Regenerative Stem Cell Medicine, BIAA enthusiastically endorses two important pieces of legislation aimed at advancing the therapeutic potential of newborn stem cells, the unique stem cells that can be collected immediately following birth from umbilical cord blood and the cord itself, as well as helping to advance the use of one's own newborn stem cells in regenerative medicine.

HR 1718 - The "Family Cord Blood Banking Act" amends Section 213(d) of the IRS Code to add cord blood banking services as a qualified medical expense. This change will allow individuals and couples to use tax advantaged dollars to pay for umbilical cord blood banking services through flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) or the medical expenses tax deduction.

The "Family Cord Blood Banking Act" will make cord blood banking more affordable for American families and provides incentives to ensure that this valuable health resource is never thrown away.

HR. 2107 - The "Cord Blood Education and Awareness Act of 2009" will provide expectant mothers with straightforward, accurate and easy to understand information about the value of their child's umbilical cord blood stem cells. It will offer a government stamp of approval on all available cord blood banking options and will give expectant parents confidence in the information they are reviewing.



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