Congress Passes TBI Act Reauthorization

Gavel on Laptop

Congress passed legislation to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury Act this week! The bill is now ready to be sent on to the President for his signature into law.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed S. 793 - the version of the legislation agreed upon by both chambers (more information below) – by a vote of 392-1. Then, last night, the Senate cleared the bill one last time, marking final passage by Congress.

In addition to authorizing ongoing CDC, NIH, and HRSA TBI programs over the period of FY 2009 through FY 2012, the bill also authorizes a new study by the CDC and the NIH in collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify the incidence of brain injury among our nation’s veterans, especially veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose of this study is to ensure that national research takes veterans into account and that current information about diagnostic tools and treatments are shared between the civilian and military scientific communities.

Overall, the reauthorization:

-Extends the authorization of such sums as may be necessary for the CDC research, public education, and state registry programs; NIH research; and HRSA programs through 2012.

-Establishes several new studies, including a study through the CDC and NIH to determine the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury, identify common therapeutic interventions, and develop rehabilitation guidelines.

-Establishes a CDC/NIH study to identify the best methods of coordinating prevalence data, in order to ensure that national research takes into account the incidence of brain injuries among our nation's veterans and that current information about diagnostic tools and treatments are shared.

-Amends the HRSA demonstration projection program such that American Indian consortia can apply for funding, that the projects are redefined to improve access to rehabilitation, and the grants are limited to 3 years.

-Requires the Administrator of HRSA and the ADA Commissioner to coordinate data collection regarding protection and advocacy. It stipulates that, in any year where $6 million is appropriated for the HRSA protection and advocacy services program, 2% is used for a grant providing for training and technical assistance to protection and advocacy systems.

Passage of TBI Act reauthorization has been the number one legislative priority of BIAA in 2008, and much behind-the-scenes work with Members of Congress and their staff has occurred in recent weeks and months. In addition, BIAA grassroots advocates played an essential role in moving this legislation and ensuring that Congress passed it THIS YEAR, so a huge THANK YOU to all of you who contacted your Representatives and otherwise worked to ensure the progress of this key legislation.

Since the President has not threatened to veto this bill, BIAA is not asking advocates to contact the President at this time. Instead, BIAA will be asking advocates to craft thank you notes to key legislators in the near future. Of course, if you do feel individually moved to contact the President, you are welcome to do so.

BIAA will continue to closely monitor the progress of the bill as it makes its way to the President's desk.