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Rep. Pascrell Wants Brain Injuries Covered Under Obama Health Care Overhaul

19-Oct-2011 "Traumatic brain injuries — always unforeseen and often catastrophic — sometimes leave patients in a 'treatment gap' as they try to resume a normal life," reported Seth Augenstein in today's New Jersey Star-Ledger.

"But there’s a new push by some lawmakers and brain specialists to close that gap and ensure care for the millions of Americans with brain injuries from car accidents, falls and military wounds. This afternoon, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute representatives pledged their intention to push for brain injuries to be covered under the Affordable Care Act.

'While Kessler has been performing miracles for their patients and helping to restore their lives, it is sad to know that people with TBI across this country and even in this state do not have access to treatments that could help them to live more independent lives,' Pascrell said at the Kessler facility in West Orange. 'We’re saving a buck — and losing the possibility … of a person improving their life.'

The announcement from Pascrell and the experts comes after a recommendation from the nonprofit Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, to be flexible within the definition of "essential" health benefits. The Oct. 7 recommendation urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take into account medical services producing incremental health benefits — even if there are added costs involved.

Pascrell said he and the staff of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) have been urging the federal department to ensure traumatic brain injury care will be accessible and essential within the changes brought by health care reform."

Go here for the press release on Access to Care from April 2011. See letters to Sec. Kathleen Sebelius from Rep. Pascrell (here) and from Rep. Giffords (here).

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