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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
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Brain Injury Association of Michigan Updates – August 5th, 2009

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When I was elected to the Board of Directors to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, I promised my InjuryBoard readers that I would provide them with regular updates from the front lines of brain injury advocacy. Today we have some very good news straight from Michael Dabbs, the president of the BIAMI:

Appropriations Update

TBI Act

On Friday, July 24, 2009 the House of Representatives passed a $730.5 billion bill to fund health, education and labor programs in fiscal 2010. The bill (HR 3293) allocates $10 million to the HRSA state grant and protection and advocacy programs. The accompanying committee report states:

"The Committee provides $10 million for the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program. This is $123,000 above the fiscal year 2009 funding level and the budget request. The TBI program funds the development and implementation of statewide systems to ensure access to care, including pre-hospital care, emergency department care, hospital care, rehabilitation, transitional services, education and employment, and long-term community supports. Grants also go to State protection and advocacy systems. In fiscal year 2009, 16 States will receive TBI awards, and 57 State and territorial protection and advocacy systems will be funded. The Committee intends that HRSA allocates the TBI funding increase to States and protection and advocacy systems in the same proportion as they received with fiscal year 2009 funding."

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

Also, considered as part of the bill, funding for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research as stated in the Committee Report is as follows:

"The Committee recommends $110,741,000 for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which is $3,000,000 above the fiscal year 2009 funding level and the same as the budget request. The Institute supports research, demonstration, and training activities that are designed to maximize the employment and integration into society of individuals with disabilities of all ages. The Committee encourages the Administration to establish an Interagency Committee on Disability Research to develop a comprehensive government-wide strategic plan for disability and rehabilitation research, including capacity building and knowledge translation."

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration’s program that supports seniors and the disabled received $11.4 billion in the bill, $993 million above 2009, for a limitation on administrative expenses for SSA. The Committee expressed dedication to helping the Social Security Administration (SSA) address several challenges, including processing a rising number of retirement and disability claims, reducing the backlog of disability claims, and improving service to the public.

BIAA will continue to monitor the bill as the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin marking up its version of the bill July 28. Look for more details and action alerts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, BIAA thanks grassroots advocates for their assistance!

Health Care Reform Update

House

After more contentious private and public negotiations on a health overhaul between House leaders and moderate Democrats, prospects are uncertain for a vote on the bill before lawmakers leave for a long August recess.

The Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Henry Waxman, is aiming to come to an agreement by Monday or Tuesday of this week in order to report the bill to the full house.

House Democratic leaders will attempt to convince their caucus of the merits of the legislation Monday evening, in the hope of holding a vote at the end of this week or early next week.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, had earlier dismissed the idea that Energy and Commerce might have to discharge the bill without voting on it — something Waxman said, in the heat of his dispute with moderate democrats, that he was considering himself. "I’m not interested in that, and I don’t think the Speaker is either," Hoyer said. (CQ)

He said chances are "very small" they will take the bill to the floor before the House’s scheduled July 31 break for the August recess. However, he said it was possible the leadership would hold the chamber in session beyond that date.


Senate

Senate leaders last week abandoned plans to pass their own bill before August, but work continues among a bipartisan group of six Finance Committee members – backed by their leadership – to reach agreement on an overhaul.

BIAA will continue to monitor Health Care Reform closely as debate continues.

The fact that 10 million was earmarked to the traumatic brain injury program and that this figure was a six-figure increase over 2008 is good news indeed. My hat is off to the National Brain Injury Association and all the folks that are working behind the scenes to help the survivors of traumatic brain injuries.