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House Armed Services Committee Adopts TBI Amendment

12-May-2011 (updated) On May 11, 2011, Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R-PA), co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, working in collaboration with the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Task Force members and the Brain Injury Association of America, introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes $1 million for the development of treatment guidelines for post-acute rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury. The amendment was adopted en bloc by the full House Armed Services Committee by voice vote.

Despite the many advances in science and medicine, medical treatment guidelines for post-acute rehabilitation of moderate and severe TBI do not exist. Currently, there is no compilation of the published evidence and professional consensus to ensure that wounded warriors and the 1.7 million civilians who sustain brain injuries in the U.S. each year receive the highest quality, most effective post-acute rehabilitation.

“The absence of treatment guidelines contributes to the substantial inconsistencies in health insurance coverage for TBI care," said Dr. Brent Masel, national medical director for the Brain Injury Association of America.“The inconsistencies make it difficult for people to get the care they need to live healthy, independent and productive lives.”

The inconsistencies in insurance coverage also create a challenge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act charges the agency with writing regulations for essential health benefits based on a “typical employer plan.” Since there are no typical insurance plans for TBI, advocates argue the essential benefits for rehabilitation should be based on standardized treatment guidelines that reduce long-term disability and mitigate against the chronic disease processes that result from a traumatic brain injury.  

“Congress has acknowledged that traumatic brain injuries from blast exposures are the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Rep. Platts. “It is more important than ever that we do right by the men and women in our military who serve in harm’s way to ensure that they receive the highest quality of medical treatment available in order to lead meaningful and productive lives post-injury.”

BIAA thanks our congressional partners in this effort, including Congressmen Platts and Pascrell, the office of Congresswoman Giffords, and the House Armed Services Committee. BIAA will continue to follow the provision throughout the process of passing the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act and alert grassroots advocates if any action becomes necessary.

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