The Brain Injury Association of America asked me to share this May 2015 Legislative Update. Here it is:
National Institutes of Health Caucus formed in the United States Senate
On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) caucus. The Senators will co-chair the caucus and it will focus on bolstering support for federal research and to find a way to fund it. The NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins and other researchers participated in the dedication ceremony this week. Since 2003, NIH has lost 25 percent of its purchasing power which the senators attribute to sequestration and flat budgets.
The 21st Century Cures bill in the House which was marked out of the Energy and Commerce Committee this week includes $10 billion for NIH. The nonpartisan legislation will help to modernize and personalize health care, encourage greater innovation, support research, and streamline the system to deliver better, faster cures to more patients. To learn more about TBI work at NIH click here. To learn more about the 21st Century Cures Act click here.
Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the National
Institutes of Health Act
BIAA along with the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC) is working to increase support for S. 800, a bill to enhance the stature and visibility of medical rehabilitation research at NIH. This legislation would specifically:
- Clarifies the Respective Roles of the NCMRR Director, the Director of the Institute and the Director of NIH Regarding the Research Plan. The bills place the key subject matter expert (i.e., the NCMRR Director) at the helm of the Research Plan for conducting medical rehabilitation research at NIH while making it clear that the Director of the Center is exercising this authority on behalf of the Director of NIH and the Director of the Institute and in consultation with the Medical Rehabilitation Coordinating Committee (coordinating committee) and the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation (advisory board) established by statute.
- Updates the Trans-NIH Rehabilitation Research Plan. The bills specify that the Research Plan must include objectives, benchmarks, and guiding principles regarding the conduct, support, and coordination of medical rehabilitation research at NIH, consistent with the purpose of the Center. The Research Plan should be updated periodically or not less than every five years.
- Adds an Annual Rehabilitation Research Progress Report. The bills specify that the Director of NCMRR, in consultation with the Director of the Institute, must prepare an annual report for the coordinating committee and the advisory board describing and evaluating the progress made during the preceding fiscal year in achieving objectives, benchmarks, and guiding principles included in the Research Plan. In preparing the report, the Director of the Center and the Director of the Institute must consult with the Director of NIH and the report must reflect an assessment of the Research Plan by the Director of NIH.
- Adds a Scientific Conference or Workshop on Medical Rehabilitation Research. The bills specify that the coordinating committee periodically, or not less than every 5 years, host a “scientific conference or workshop on medical rehabilitation research” in connection with updating of the Trans-NIH Medical Rehabilitation Research Plan. This policy ensures periodic review of the state of medical rehabilitation science and outreach to the research community in connection with revisions of the Research Plan.
- Improving Stature of Medical Rehabilitation Science. The bills specify that the coordinating committee includes the Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director of NIH and the coordinating committee is chaired by the Director of the Center, acting in the capacity of a designee of the Director of NIH. This policy is intended to maximize the likelihood that the trans-NIH nature of medical rehabilitation research is realized.
- Clarifies Funding Among NIH Agencies. The bills specify that the Director of the Center, in consultation with the Director of the Institute, the coordinating committee, and the advisory board, must develop guidelines governing the funding of medical rehabilitation research by the Center and other agencies of the NIH. These guidelines should ensure that funding initiatives reflect the purposes of the Center and are consistent with the Research Plan. This policy is intended to establish funding grant procedures that focus on a common understanding of medical rehabilitation research needs.
- Includes a Definition of Medical Rehabilitation Research. Because current law does not include a definition of the term “medical rehabilitation research,” the bills specify a definition of this term as: “The science of mechanisms and interventions that prevent, improve, restore, or replace lost, underdeveloped, or deteriorating function (defined at the level of impairment, activity, and participation according to the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Function, Disability, and Health (2001).” This definition is consistent with the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations and would facilitate a consistent understanding of medical rehabilitation science at NIH.
BIAA, along with 21 other DRRC organizations sent a letter of support to Congress urging the passage of S. 800.
White House Names Disability Public Engagement Representative
The White House announced this week Maria Town is the new Disability Public Engagement Representative and she will be in this position until the end of President Obama’s Administration. Ms. Town will serve as Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement in the White House.
Maria has been involved in the Disability Rights movement for many years and has worked in the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the Department of Labor. You can follow Ms. Town on Twitter: @maria_m_town
Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2015 Introduced
This week, Congressman Pete Olson of Texas introduced the Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2015. This legislation would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to preserve access to rehabilitation innovation centers under the Medicare program. To read the text of this legislation click here.