Congress Finds Unique Bipartisan Support for Traumatic Brain Injury Programs
On the evening of November 13, 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2539, the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014, (TBIRA) sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and co-sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). The next step is for the bill to be signed by President Obama.
With Republicans and Democrats bitterly divided on most public policy issues, it is encouraging to see them come together on how to approach what is now being recognized as a serious public health issue – traumatic brain injury.
TBIRA provides a much needed framework for a national, coordinated approach to:
- assist those with TBI and their families,
- ensure that states have the capacity to deliver services to those affected by TBI and
- continue research into the most effective ways to diagnose and treat TBI and to prevent future cases.
The legislation continues authority to issue grants to states in support of projects that improve access to rehabilitation and as well as protection and advocacy services. The legislation vests responsibility for administering TBI programs with the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) who is required to report to Congress not more than one year after enactment. Among other things, the Secretary of the HHS is called upon to develop a TBI Coordination Plan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are directed to conduct a scientific review of the management of children with the TBI.
The passage of this legislation at a time of such discord in Congress reflects recognition on both sides of the political spectrum that there is work that urgently needs to be done to improve our understanding of TBI, to find better ways to prevent TBI, and to improve our ability to deliver effective treatment and rehabilitation.