Despite little progress on appropriations so far this year, the House of Representatives does plan on bringing the Fiscal 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill to the floor next week. This will be the first regular Fiscal 2009 appropriations bill to receive House floor consideration this session, and could also be one of the last.Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the fiscal 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill, containing increased funding for medical research, including TBI research. The Senate version of this funding bill also contains valuable report language directing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and expand cooperative agreements with public and private groups to treat traumatic brain injury patients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to report on expanding the pool for expertise available to treat the injuries.
BIAA applauds this report language, as one of BIAA's main federal policy goals continues to be increasing access to non-VA (civilian) TBI care providers when in the optimal interest of the service member, and BIAA remains very active on this issue on Capitol Hill.
Although many details of the House version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill have not yet emerged, it is said to contain $500 million for medical and prosthetic research, rejecting the President's $38 million cut and representing $20 million over last year's funding allocation for such research. In addition, the bill allocates $200 million for fee-based services to improve access to care where Veterans Health Administration services are not available; it is likely that such services could potentially include TBI care and rehabilitation services.
Currently, the Fiscal 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding measure, as well as the Fiscal 2009 Defense Appropriations bill - which has now been scheduled for House Subcommittee markup next week - are the only two regular Fiscal 2009 appropriations measures expected to progress in the remaining months of this congressional session.