The federal Traumatic Brain Injury Act provides many benefits to survivors. For example, much of the research that I reference on this website is done by organizations funded through the Act. When it was originally signed into law in 1996, the TBI Act defined its goals as to “identify methods of preventing traumatic brain injury; expand biomedical research efforts to prevent or minimize the severity of dysfunction as a result of such an injury; and to improve the delivery and quality of services through state demonstration projects.” More than 20 years later, the basic goals of the bill remain the same. However, every few years reauthorization is required, and new amendments are added.
This year, Congressman Bill Pascrell presented H.R. 6615 to the House for this reauthorization on July 26, 2018. (Rep. Pascrell is the co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. The bill was co-sponsored by the other co-chair of the Task Force Rep. Thomas Rooney (FL), and by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes (DC), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) and Rep. Brian Higgins (NY).) “I am proud to introduce this critical bipartisan, bicameral reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act,” Pascrell said. In particular, the bill is seeking a $186,000 increase in the annual budget of the National Concussion Surveillance System. (From $6,564,000 each fiscal year from 2015 through 2019 to $6,750,000 each fiscal year from 2019 through 2023, to perform aspects of data collection and evaluation.) Established in 2016, NCSS seeks to, “determine the prevalence and incidence of concussion,” through such activities as household telephone surveys. Additionally, the bill aims to increase the budget for state and federal research grants. (Full information regarding budget increases and activities to be completed can be read fully in bill.)
This week H.R. 6615 passed the House and was sent to the Senate. Termed S. 3657 in the Senate, the Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT). (The fact that the main sponsor of the bill was Rep. Pascrell, a Democrat, in the House and Sen. Hatch, a Republican, in the Senate is further proof of its bipartisan appeal.) As Hatch said, “We know TBI is a serious problem, but we fail to grasp its severity and scope. Our bill will change that… our legislation will extend important research, education, and advocacy efforts to help us better understand the nature of brain trauma and reduce the prevalence of these injuries going forward.”