Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Inflammation After Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Personal Injury, Publications, Resources, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Uncategorized
Tim March 2016 (450x800)

Researchers identify how inflammation spreads through the brain after injury and Findings could transform understanding of brain injury, disease

The concept of Traumatic Brain Injury being a “process” and not just an “event,” has been discussed by experts in recent years.  A new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation may change our perception of neuro-degeneration.

This new understanding has the potential to transform how brain inflammation is understood, and, ultimately, how it is treated. The researchers showed that microparticles derived from brain inflammatory cells are markedly increased in both the brain and the blood following experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI). Research has found that neuroinflammation often goes on for years after TBI, causing chronic brain damage.

Chronic inflammation has been increasingly implicated in the progressive cell loss and neurological changes that occur after TBI. These inflammatory microparticles may be a key mechanism for chronic, progressive brain inflammation and may represent a new target for treating brain injury.

National Institutes of Health Brain Injury

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Books, Articles, and Literature, Brain Injury News and Event Update, Uncategorized
Tim Titolo

As I review updated web sites I come across Pertinent information.  For instance, below is a page from NIH about Brain Injury.  It contains several sub links per topic. This makes getting answers to your questions easier.

Risks to Cognitive Health

 Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are all thought to influence cognitive health. Some of these factors may contribute to a decline in thinking skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, paying bills, taking medicine, and cooking.

Genetic factors are passed down (inherited) from a parent to child and cannot be controlled.

But environmental and lifestyle factors can be changed, particularly those you can control yourself. These factors include:

Health Problems

Many health conditions affect the brain and pose risks to cognitive function. These conditions include:

  • heart disease and high blood pressure—can lead to stroke and changes in blood vessels related to dementia
  • diabetes—damages blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain; increases risk for stroke and heart attack; associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s disease—causes a buildup of harmful proteins and other changes in the brain that leads to memory loss and other thinking problems
  • stroke—can damage blood vessels in the brain and increase risk for vascular dementia
  • depression—can lead to confusion or attention problems; has also been linked to dementia
  • delirium—shows up as an acute state of confusion, often during a hospital stay, and is associated with subsequent cognitive decline

It’s important to prevent or seek treatment for these health problems. They affect your brain as well as your body!

Brain Injuries

Older adults are at higher risk of falls, car accidents, and other accidents that can cause brain injury. Alcohol and certain medicines can affect a person’s ability to drive safely and increase the risk for accidents and brain injury. Learn about and deal with risks for falls, and participate in fall prevention programs. Wear helmets and seat belts to help prevent head injuries as well.

Medicines

Some medicines, and combinations of medicines, can affect a person’s thinking and the way the brain works. For example, certain drugs can cause confusion, memory loss, hallucinations, and delusions in older adults.

Medicines can also interact with food, dietary supplements, alcohol, and other substances. Some of these interactions can affect how your brain functions. Drugs that can harm older adults’ cognition include:

  • antihistamines for allergy relief
  • medicines for anxiety and depression
  • sleep aids
  • antipsychotics
  • muscle relaxants
  • some drugs to treat urinary incontinence
  • medications for relief of cramps in the stomach, intestines, and bladder

For information on medicines and older adults, see Medicine, Age, and Your Brain.

Physical Activity

Lack of exercise and other physical activity may increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stroke—all of which can harm the brain. In some studies, physical activity has been linked to improved cognitive performance and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. More research in this area is needed, however.

Diet

Woman and daughter cooking.A number of studies link eating certain foods with keeping the brain healthy—and suggest that other foods can increase health risk. For example, high-fat, high-sodium foods can lead to health problems, like heart disease and diabetes, that harm the brain.

Smoking

Smoking is harmful to your body and your brain. It raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, and lung disease. Quitting smoking at any age can improve your health.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol affects the brain by slowing or impairing communication among brain cells. This can lead to slurred speech, fuzzy memory, drowsiness, and dizziness. Long-term effects may include changes in balance, memory, emotions, coordination, and body temperature. Staying away from alcohol can reverse some of these changes.

As people age, they may become more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. The same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect on an older person than on someone who is younger. Also, some medicines can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information

Sleep Problems

At any age, getting a good night’s sleep supports brain health. Sleep problems—not getting enough sleep, sleeping poorly, and sleep disorders—can lead to trouble with memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes short pauses in breathing when a person is sleeping. It can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or memory loss. Treatment for sleep apnea begins with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and quitting smoking. Use of a special device ordered by a doctor may also help.

Social Isolation and Loneliness

Social isolation and feeling lonely may be bad for brain health. Loneliness has been linked to higher risk for dementia, and less social activity to poorer cognitive function.

Liability Medicare Set Aside – CMS Gearing Up to Reject Medicare Claims Related to Liability Settlements

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Uncategorized
Tim Titolo

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a “CMS Manual System” “One-Time Notification” regarding Liability Medicare Set Asides and enforcement of the Medicare Secondary Payer statute (MSP). Starting October 1, 2017, Medicare and their contractors will reject medical claims submitted post-resolution of a liability settlement on the basis those claims “should be paid from a Liability Medicare Set Aside (LMSA).”

B. Josh Pettingill, of Orlando based Synergy Settlement Services, says, “At the heart of the announcement is the following text which Synergy has continually indicated was CMS’s position regarding liability settlements and enforcement of the MSP:

‘Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1395y(b)(2) and §1862(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Social Security Act, Medicare is precluded from making payment when payment “has been made or can reasonably be expected to be made under a workers’ compensation plan, an automobile or liability insurance policy or plan (including a self-insured plan), or under no-fault insurance.” Medicare does not make claims payment for future medical expenses associated with a settlement, judgment, award, or other payment because payment “has been made” for such items or services through use of LMSA or NFMSA funds. However, Liability and No-Fault MSP claims that do not have a MSA will continue to be processed under current MSP claims processing instructions.’

“Enforcement of the MSP as it pertains to future Medicare covered services began back in 2001 when CMS announced in a policy memorandum the requirement to set aside a portion of workers’ compensation settlements allocated to future Medicare covered expenses. Accordingly, the MSP enforcement only took place in the context of workers’ compensation matters. The practical implication of this memorandum was the advent of the Medicare set aside. In 2007, Section 111 Reporting Requirements (part of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act (MMSEA)) added a mechanism for CMS to track Medicare beneficiaries who receive liability, workers’ compensation or no-fault liability settlements, judgments or awards. This Section 111 Reporting Requirement gave CMS further ammunition to track compensable ICD codes related to the liability case.

There has been little to no enforcement of MSP in the context of liability settlements up until now. In most instances, Medicare has continued to process medical claims as if there never were a recovery made for future medical care. On very rare occasions, they would deny medial claims submitted by providers.  This latest commentary indicates an imminent change in the near future in regards to enforcement of the MSP. CMS is subtly sending the message that LMSAs are going to be a necessary mechanism in order to avoid denial of medical claims post-resolution. They are also suggesting there will be certain cases where LMSAs will not be necessary; although, this latest alert did not specify these circumstances.”

juridical concept with hammer and lawbook, selective focus on metal part,toned f/xMedicare Set Asides require an attorney get a professional estimate of future care costs and invest a portion of the trial verdict or settlement amount to fund those costs.  This prevents medicare recipients from using tax money to pay for health care when they have been paid, in theory, for their future medical care in the lawsuit result.  The process is murky but the horizon appears clear and less murky. MSAs are coming.

 

Here is a link to the announcement:

https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Transmittals/2017Downloads/R1787OTN.pdf

American Health Care Act Limits Brain Injury

Posted in Attorney Selection, Brain Injury News and Event Update, Legislation, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, Publications, Resources, Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • At a time when Americans are concerned about health care being too expensive, the AHCA raises premiums 20 percent, charges people over the age of 50 five times more than younger enrollees and increases out-of-pocket costs and deductibles while leaving 24 million more people uninsured.
  • The changes made yesterday to Essential Health Benefits make coverage worse for almost everybody.
  • It effectively eliminates annual out-of-pocket caps and reinstates annual and lifetime coverage limits.
  • It guts protections for preexisting conditions, because most insurance policies won’t include coverage for essential benefits, like rehabilitation, resulting in soaring costs for those who need them.
  • Medicaid cuts and changes to health insurance rules will dramatically limit access for individuals living with brain injury.

House Committees Pass Reconciliation Bill Affecting Health Care

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Books, Articles, and Literature, Legislation, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, Publications, Resources, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Tim March 2016 (450x800)

Health Care Bill

This week, two House Committees expedited legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dramatically reduce and change the Medicaid program. The Committees debating the bill were the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. Congress is using the reconciliation budget process to fast track repealing the health care reform bill. The proposal uses cuts in the Medicaid program as a way to pay for it by capping spending and transferring the program to the states to administer. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) sent an Action Alert earlier this week expressing concerns about the bill and will continue to apprise advocates as the bill progresses (view the Action Alert here). BIAA also sent a letter of support to the Ways and Means Committee in support of Congressman Pascrell’s (D-N.J.) amendment to protect individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) by maintaining current premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies in order to purchase a health plan in the private individual health insurance market.

Traumatic Brain Injury Victims versus President Trump and Republican Congress

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Personal Injury, Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
BIAA

The Brain Injury Association of America enriches us with activity in government updates.  Of particular interest is the deconstruction of our nation’s health care. The Affordable Care Act is being dismantled in favor of a yet unknown substitute.

Recently President Trump called for an investigation of alleged Obama wire taps accusing President Obama of listening in on his private conversations.  This is a distraction from the ongoing and getting worse Russia situation.  It will be interesting if the alleged Russian contact ever testifies about the conversations he had with the, now, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the scandal for unknown reasons.  Usually a Judge will recuse himself for conflicts such as, having an interest in a business of one of the litigants, or other relationship with one of the parties. This seems to be, perhaps, the Attorney General having participated in the disputed facts.

A few days ago, the Senate confirmed Dr. Ben Carson to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and former Texas governor Rick Perry as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Please read through to my conclusion at the end. Please post any comments as we are interested in your opinion. We are now in March 2017. Here are things you should know about that will affect us all.

March 3, 2017

President’s Speech to Congress

Although not billed as a State of the Union Address, President Trump delivered his first speech to Congress Tuesday night. Among his legislative agenda is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), overhaul taxes, fund a trillion-dollar infrastructure program, and increase military and security spending. To pay for the proposed increase of $54 billion for the military, the President is proposing to cut about the same amount from non-defense discretionary programs. Non-defense discretionary programs refer to programs which receive an annual appropriation, such as programs authorized by the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act.

The President sent his blueprint for his budget recommendations to government agencies on Monday, whereby federal agencies will recommend program cuts and elimination in order to achieve the President’s goal of increasing defense spending. At the same time, the President is not calling for cuts from veterans’ programs, law enforcement, or entitlement programs (i.e., Medicaid, Social Security, etc.).

House GOP Plans to Mark Up Health Care Proposal

There are conflicting stories as to the House Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees’ intent on voting on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) starting next week. The disability community received word that the Energy and Commerce Committee is to mark up a bill next week and then the Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing after that to discuss taxes associated with the ACA. As such, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), of which the Brain Injury Association of America is a member, sent an organizational sign on letter calling into question the Committees’ intent to repeal and replace the health care plan without opportunity for public input.

Lawmakers have floated their intentions of restructuring the Medicaid program by shifting the entitlement program to one with per capita caps or turning the program into a block grant program with a fixed amount to states and for the states to administer. The goal is to cut Medicaid costs in order to offset the costs associated with the repealing of taxes pertaining to the ACA. Politico reported that House Energy and Commerce Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said he would be sharing an “initial staff draft” with Committee Members this Thursday. He didn’t say when it would become public or confirm any markup hearing in his Committee next week.

Republican leaders have been calling for a replacement bill that would cover pre-existing conditions, encourage health savings accounts, offer tax credits, and provide assistance for state high risk pools for those with health conditions. Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation has posted information about the current proposals on its website to allow you to compare the ACA and four of the proposed replacement plans. That resource is available here.

Advocates Asked to Help CBITF Circulate Letter in Support of Funding for TBI Programs

With the current environment focused on cutting federal funding next year, advocates are called on to help support funding for TBI Act programs, NIDILRR Model Systems, and research by asking their U.S. Representatives to sign on to a Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF) letter being circulated by Co-chairs, Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). The letter is available here. Advocates are also invited to attent the CBITF annual Awareness Day activities scheduled for March 22. This is an excellent time to meet with your Representatives and Senators to educate them on brain injury and funding needs.

 Congress Marks Up Defense FY 2017 Spending Bill

While energy is now placed on funding for the next fiscal year, the funding for the current year ends April 28. Congress will need to enact an appropriations bill(s) or a continuing resolution to continue federal government through Sept. 30. This week, the House Appropriations Committee introduced the final version of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Defense Appropriations bill, which will be considered on the House floor next week. The agreement provides $312 million for cancer research, $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research, and $296 million for sexual assault prevention and response. All of these funding levels represent increases above the budget request for these programs.

 Senate Confirms President’s Cabinet Nominations

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Dr. Ben Carson to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and former Texas governor Rick Perry as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

TimIn Conclusion  

There appear to be major and minor rifts happening which will be felt soon. The health care we receive will be changing again. Our fund appropriated Brain Injury Programs and those of affiliated partners will suffer. The quality of care to those who are receiving and those who would have benefited from such care will reduce.

What happens next will be known when it happens as, so far, this administration has been predictably unpredictable.

We are all interested in current events whether we realize it or not. From keeping abreast via the internet or social media, watching the 30 minute news segment or other news channels, to old fashioned reading of newspapers: we all absorb our environment and, hopefully, seek successful social networks.  Therefore what happens in our town, state, nation, world and universe, is of interest.  PLEASE take a few moments to share your reaction to this post, either my commentary or the substantive portion from the BIAA, or both.  Thank you.

Brain Injury Conference

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update

My friend, Sherry Stock of the Pacific NW Brain Injury’s 15th Annual Conference, asked me to post this for my readers.  I have participated in this conference

Sherry Stock

 

Don’t Miss Out  Early Registration Deadline is Fast Approaching!

Join Us For Our Annual Conference!

 

Thursday, March 9

 

Friday & Saturday, March 10 & 11

 

This preconference workshop is designed for health care professionals, AFH, RCF, caregivers and family members seeking instruction on dealing with challenging behaviors, resources and general  knowledge.

 

This conference is for professionals working with individuals living with brain injury individuals with brain Injury, and caregivers. It is a great opportunity to learn more about current issues including veterans, the latest treatments, support services and resources for those involved with the brain injury community. 

 

Co-Hosted By:

The Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon

The Brain Injury Alliance of Washington The Brain Injury Alliance of Idaho Alaska Brain Injury Network

 

 

Conference Flyer        Conference Website      Conference Registration

 

Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon  Mailing Address: PO Box 549, Molalla OR 97038 800-544-5243 fax: 503.961-8730  biaor@biaoregon.org sherry@biaoregon.org http://www.biaoregon.org  IRS 501(c)(3) organization Tax ID: 93-0900797 “If a disease were killing our children in the proportions that [brain] injuries are, people would be outraged and demand that this killer be stopped.”  former Surgeon General Everett Koop, MD.

 

Life Care Planning for Pediatric Brain Injury

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update

This case involves the neonatal care of a boy who was born under the circumstances of a prolonged delivery. At birth doctors obtained an APGAR score of 7 and the child was observed for a day and a half, after which he was discharged to home, allegedly jaundiced. He was brought for evaluation by a pediatrician who diagnosed the baby with jaundice. He was readmitted to the hospital and was administered a transfusion. An MRI was conducted, and he was diagnosed with severe brain damage. A follow-up MRI reconfirmed the presence of brain damage. The child will require a lifetime of ongoing care, and was assessed by a life care planner in order to project the expense of this care throughout his life.

 Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely assess long-term needs for pediatric patients that have endured similar birth complications?
  • 2. Are you familiar with the neurospychological and cognitive limitations that may evolve from clinical diagnoses such as those described in this case?

Expert Witness Response E-080381

Pediatric LCP’s of this nature are complicated. There is a need to work with a physician that can tie everything together, preferably a pediatric physiatrist. A home visit is necessary. If you desire an opinion regarding lost earning capacity I need to be able to evaluate parents and have access to sibling information regarding their education thus far. I have developed numerous pediatric LCP’s over the last 20+ years. These plans have been related to birth injury or trauma. In my practice I do a considerable amount of school transition planning. I work with neuropsychologist’s and their reports frequently. This case will require a great deal of care, due to the extensive nature of the child’s injuries as well is the extended period of time over which he will require ongoing care.

BIAA Update February

Posted in Uncategorized

Lawmakers Introduce Therapy Cap Bills

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has introduced H.R. 807 to repeal the Medicare outpatient rehabilitation therapy caps. The legislation currently has 46 co-sponsors. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced a companion bill, S. 253. So far, three senators have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. The Medicare cap on outpatient rehabilitation therapy services was originally instituted under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 as a combined cap on speech-language pathology (SLP) and physical therapy (PT) services, as well as a separate cap on occupational therapy (OT) services to Medicare beneficiaries. The 2013 “Path for SGR Reform Act of 2013” law directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue to allow exceptions to therapy caps for medically necessary services provided through March 31, 2014. The therapy cap exceptions process has since required reauthorization annually.

Republicans Pursue Repealing the ACA

Republican lawmakers are moving forward to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week and this week, committees held a flurry of hearings. Both the House Budget Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee held separate hearings on the “failings” of the program and in particular, the effectiveness of the individual mandate requirement, which was discussed by the House Ways and Means Committee. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held two hearings on Medicaid and the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing called “Rescuing Americans from the Failed Health Care Law and Advancing Patient-Centered Solutions.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations examined the Medicaid expansion program.

The Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee are also studying specific proposals. The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on stabilizing the insurance market. These House and Senate committee hearings follow the budget resolution passed by both the House and Senate, which contained provisions for repealing and replacing the health care reform legislation. Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order to give federal agencies latitude in delaying or waiving provisions, rules and regulations with regard to the ACA that would place a fiscal burden on states, individuals, families, health care providers, health insurers, or makers of medical devices, products or medications.

Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Schedules Awareness Day

Mark your calendar for the 2017 Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill to be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a Brain Injury Awareness Fair to be held in the Rayburn Foyer, followed by the briefing, “Faces of Brain Injury: The Invisible Disability Affecting Children and Adults,” to be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168. A reception will  also be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is a sponsor of the reception and will be actively involved in the day’s events.

Senate Committee Approves Education Nominee

Early this morning, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary as the U.S. Department of Education, President Trump’s pick. The final confirmation vote is expected to take place Monday. The vote this morning was 52 to 48 along party lines. Two republicans have indicated they will vote against her on the final vote Monday, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, which would result in Vice President Pence casting the tie breaker vote.

President Trump Issues Executive Order on the ACA

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update
BIAA
 I have been reading the latest Brain Injury Association’s News and republish the following for my readers.
 Quick Links

BIAA Government Affairs

BIAA Home Page

Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists (ACBIS)

Find BIA in Your State

Brain Injury Preferred Attorneys

BIAA Career Center

 

 

BIAA Policy Corner

is an update on federal policy activity related to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is published weekly when Congress is in session.
The Brain Injury Association of America

is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization.

Our mission is to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment and education and to improve the quality of life for all individuals impacted by brain injury.

Through advocacy, we bring help, hope and healing to millions of individuals living with brain injury, their families and the professionals who serve them.

 

The Brain Injury Association of America is grateful to its Corporate Sponsors for their support of our advocacy, awareness, information and education programs. Please visit their Web sites to learn more about their programs and services.

 

 

President Trump Issues Executive Order on the ACA

On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Among his first duties was to issue an Executive Order calling for the rolling back of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Executive Order directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other affected agencies to interpret regulations as loosely as possible to minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers, and health care providers. Norris W. Cochran, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, is currently serving as the Acting Secretary of HHS until the president’s nomination for secretary is confirmed.

 

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee vetted Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) who was appointed by President Trump to serve as the HHS Secretary. Committee members questioned his vision for health care, including the Medicaid program. Specifically, the committee members discussed his position on block granting Medicaid and giving the responsibility to the states to determine how to administer. Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee also held a confirmation hearing to consider Rep. Price for the position. The Senate Finance Committee will have the ultimate say as to advancing the candidate to be voted on by the full Senate.

 

Senate Committees Vet Administration Appointees

On Jan. 18, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to consider Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of the Department of Education. Several senators questioned her knowledge and support of the Individuals with Education Act (IDEA), as well as other responsibilities of the department. Several disability organizations have since expressed concern for her lack of knowledge and support for IDEA. The chairman of the committee has postponed the confirmation vote until Jan. 31 to give committee members time to review her ethics committee report.

 

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation voted unanimously to approve Elaine Chao as Secretary of the Department of Transportation. She testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Jan. 11. She will need to be confirmed by the full Senate before assuming the position

 

Federal Agency Directors Submit Required Resignation Letters

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., submitted his resignation as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) effective Jan. 20, in keeping with tradition of non-termed political appointees to vacate their positions for the new Administration to fill. His resignation letter was returned and he was instructed that he will be staying on until further notice. Tom Frieden, M.D., has stepped down as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. is serving as the Acting Director. John Tschida, who has served as the director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) since March 2014, has also vacated his position.

 

Federal Agencies Notified to Curb External Communications

Several federal employees, including HHS employees, have received a memo calling for a halt to external correspondence until Feb. 3. HHS operating Divisions have also been notified to hold off on publishing new rules or guidance in public forums until the new Administration has time to review them.

 

Rep. Walden to Introduce Bill to Protect Persons with Pre-existing Conditions

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has indicated his plans to introduce legislation to ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions continue to receive health care coverage. He announced his intentions in an interview with CNN reporter, Jake Tapper. He also expressed support for giving governors flexibility with regard to a new health care plan.

 

Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Announces Awareness Day

As co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr.(D-N.J.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) have sent invitations for participation in the 2017 Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill to be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017. As in past years, the day will begin at 10 a.m. with a Brain Injury Awareness Fair to be held in the Rayburn Foyer, followed by the briefing, “Faces of Brain Injury: The Invisible Disability Affecting Children and Adults,” to be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168. A reception will be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is a co-sponsor of the reception and will be actively involved in the day’s events.