CBITF Rallies to Protect Medical Care Benefits & Other News

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF), its co-chair Tom Rooney, specific state affiliates, and individuals living with brain injuries, as well as their families, all gathered to promote awareness on Capitol Hill recently for CBITF Awareness Day. The advocates gained the attention of House of Representatives members and Senators, and called for an increase to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act program funding and TBI Model Systems projected for the upcoming fiscal year. The CBITF has begun distributing a “Dear Colleague” letter to Congress in an effort to get more supportive signatures for funding opportunities.

The CBITF wants to collect signatures to increase funding to:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL) TBI State Grant
  • Protection and Advocacy Grant
  • National Institute of Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
  • Miscellaneous funding for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research

Other gatherings occurred on CBITF Awareness Day as well, many that involved concern over the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was given the unofficial name of Obamacare. If or when the ACA is repealed, it is expected that cuts to Medicaid will be pushed through with the same legislation. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and former-Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa both attended a gathering of disability advocates on the lawn of the Capitol Building to protest the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA). Another activist group, ADAPT, had a strong presence at the Capitol Rotunda that same day, blocking traffic momentarily as it protested the ACA repeal and how Medicaid will be weakened.

Future of the AHCA & EHB

Only moments before a scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act, the bill was pulled, sparking controversy and raising intrigue about the validity of the AHCA overall. Later that same day, House Republicans would pass a vote to begin a close-rule debate on the legislation. GOP members are currently attempting to gather more support for the AHCA, which many believe will amount to increased lobbying efforts. It has also been reported that other changes propose eliminating private market essential healthcare benefits (EHB).

Essential healthcare benefits include:

  • Emergency services
  • Extended hospitalization
  • Laboratory testing services
  • Many prescription drugs
  • Maternity care
  • Mental health therapy
  • Outpatient care
  • Pediatric services
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation care

Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Tim Murphy has stated that he was able to negotiate successfully for another $15 billion set aside specifically for state-level mental health and addiction treatment programs under the proposed AHCA. States can utilize the $100 billion state stability fund as well.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently distributed its own calculations of both the future costs and savings if the AHCA is eventually approved. It determined that most savings would be linked to a repeal of the EHB, and by allowing states to choose between either block grant funding or the inclusion of work requirements for people receiving Medicaid benefits. New York’s own Medicaid program was specifically called out in a new legislative addition that cut how much the federal government would match for medical cost payments linked to certain New York counties. The AHCA would also gradually do away with the funding the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) receives; this decision would lessen mandatory spending by less than $1 billion a year, states the CBO. It also claimed that there was a chance cutting out the PPHF’s funding would ultimately cost more in the long run as more and more people fell ill and had no adequate coverage.

Several new proposed clauses to the AHCA could also make the final savings only $839 billion over 10 years, instead of $880 billion. The $41 billion-odd proposed in new expenditures relate to protecting some Medicaid benefits for the blind, elderly, and permanently disabled. There has also been drafted a new AHCA package that would reduce the cuts low-income or older Americans would experience if they cannot get healthcare insurance through their occupation or an alternative government-run assistance program. Regardless of the final total saved by the AHCA changes, the CBO believes that 24 million more Americans will be without any healthcare insurance within 10 years.

Repeals, Supreme Court Rulings & Other Recent News

Three House of Representative members – Susan Brooks of Indiana, Chris Collins of New York, and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky – have drafted and officially introduced a new bill (HR 1394) that would take away certain state-level Medicaid benefits. Specifically, the bill would effectively erase a clause that helps Medicaid recipients pay for nonemergency medical transportation (NEMT) both to and from health clinics and hospitals for necessary treatments and appointments. The proposed repeal does not make any exclusions, meaning even the blind, frail, disabled, and elderly would lose NEMT coverage.

In other news, the United States Supreme Court has made a landmark ruling in a recent individual education plan (IEP) regulations case. A special needs child’s parents sued their local school district for not providing adequate schooling and learning opportunities to their child, and believed that the substandard care violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A lower court held that the school district was not in the wrong, and rejected the parent’s lawsuit that sought payment for the costs of tuition for the child’s enrollment in the private school.

Through its review following an appeal, the Supreme Court found that the lower court erred in its decision. It subsequently changed the ruling to favor the family. The implications of this ruling are massive, as it effectively mandates that school districts across the country need to improve their special needs education courses to assure parents that their children are not being dropped off at an expensive daycare but are instead being given fair opportunities to enjoy intellectual growth.

As trusted San Francisco brain injury attorneys, our team at Scarlett Law Group is interested and invested in how recent political events and proposed legislations develop. In particular, if certain ACA and Medicaid benefits are cut, it could mean many people who suffer catastrophic injuries will go without help. Our goal is to assist individuals in difficult situations find the compensation they deserve to get the medical care they require.

Contact us online to learn about our services or to ask for an initial consultation.

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