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Pascrell TBI Reauthorization Headed to President’s Desk

Traumatic brain injury legislation passes House by Unanimous Consent

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, announced that the House of Representatives voted last evening by Unanimous Consent to pass the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2014, legislation introduced by Rep. Pascrell that advances the treatment and prevention of the injury that has been dubbed "the silent epidemic”. The Senate passed this bill earlier this year.

“I applaud the House for advancing this critical legislation that will help improve our ability to prevent, detect and treat brain injuries,” said Rep. Pascrell. “I am proud to have fought for the last 12 years to protect our athletes on the ball field and our brave soldiers in the battlefield from TBI.  This reauthorization will bring us one step closer to providing those suffering from these devastating injuries with the resources they need to live healthy lives.  I look forward to President Obama swiftly signing this bill so we can continue to advance care for Americans with brain injuries.”

Congress first passed the TBI Act in 1996 to help individuals with TBI, and their families, gain access to rehabilitation, long-term care, and community and family supports often needed for return to home, work, school and community activities.  The law has been reauthorized and amended twice, in 2000 and 2008.  The TBI Act currently authorizes:

•    Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to assist States in developing and expanding service delivery capacity for individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families,
•    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct surveillance, prevention and public education programs;
•    National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct of basic and applied research in TBI
•    HRSA to make grants for the Protection and Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) program, which provides critical advocacy services to ensure that people with TBIs live full and independent lives free from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Currently, 21 States and Territories are receiving funding from the HRSA Federal TBI Program to develop service infrastructure and to expand service capacity to address unique problems associated with TBI. The CDC has classified TBI as a serious public health problem in the United States, contributing to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability.  CDC’s research and programs work to prevent TBI and help people better recognize, respond, and recover if a TBI occurs.  The CDC has produced a number of reports and guidelines relating to veterans with TBI, sports concussions, and response guidelines for educators.  PATBI operates advocacy programs in all States, Territories and the District of Columbia.

The reauthorization will elevate the TBI program within Health and Human Services (HHS) by moving the program from Maternal and Child Health’s Children’s Program in acknowledge of the impact of TBI across the age span, including older adults and returning service members/veterans. The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF) recommends relocating the program to better coordinate with federal agencies regarding long-term services and supports available to individuals with other disabilities, particularly the long-term services and supports provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Approximately 2.5 million Americans experience TBI each year and an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with long-term, severe disabilities as a result of brain injury. Another 176,000 men and women have sustained a TBI in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Founded by Rep. Pascrell in 2001, the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force’s mission is to further provide education and awareness of brain injury (incidence, prevalence, prevention and treatment) and support funding for basic and applied research on brain injury rehabilitation and development of a cure.  The Task Force is bipartisan and made up of over one hundred members of Congress.


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