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The Voice of Brain Injury on Beacon Hill

We encourage those we support to be a Voice for Brain Injury by participating in our advocacy initiatives

State Budget

BIA-MA advocates throughout the state budget process, annually, to ensure brain injury survivors and caregivers have greater access to care and increased community based services.

The Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP) is funded each year through a line item in the state budget (4120-6000) and through the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund (HITS)* (4120-6002). 

*The HITS Fund has decreased dramatically due to low traffic citations in Massachusetts. In 2016, there was a 35% drop in traffic violations compared to 2009 state-wide  while in Boston there was a 54% drop in traffic violations between 2010 and 2015.

An Act Relative to Cognitive Rehabilitation for Individuals with ABI

In January of 2023, Senator Paul Feeney and Representative Kimberly Ferguson re-filed the bill to require insurance coverage for cognitive rehabilitation. (S.635/H.1004)

The bill will help reverse the trend of health costs currently dependent on state or federal funds when they are not covered by commercial health benefit plans. Key components of the bill, which are intended for commercial health benefit plans only, are highlighted below.

  • Health benefit plans can not include any lifetime limitation or unreasonable annual limitation on the number of days for acute and post-acute care.
  • The health benefit plan must also include coverage for reasonable expenses for periodic reevaluation.
  • The health benefit plan must provide adequate training to personnel responsible for preauthorization of coverage or utilization review in order to prevent denial of coverage.
  • Expansion of coverage for treatment facilities to include individual practitioners and treatment facilities qualified to provide acute and post-acute care.

In 2020, an Omnibus Health Care bill was passed in the state which requires commercial health insurance plans, Group Insurance Commission (GIC) and MassHealth to cover cognitive rehabilitation for COVID-19 patients.

Efforts on this bill continue!

An Act Relative to Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Board

In January 2023, Senator Adam Gomez and Representative Kimberly Ferguson filed the bill to establish an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Advisory Board.  (S89/H159)

This bill will allow the state to continue the invaluable work for the Acquired Brain Injury Commission with the permanent Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Advisory Board.

The Acquired Brain injury Advisory Board will collaborate with appropriate state secretariats and their agencies, members of the legislature, individuals with acquired brain injuries and their family members, providers, clinicians, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders to review, advise, and report on services and supports, and public policy for individuals with acquired brain injuries and their families.

An Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Board will be crucial to oversee the implementation of the recommendations generated by the Acquired Brain Injury Commission and to provide guidance and direction to the state in determining how to best improve services and supports for people living with ABI in the Commonwealth.

Acquired Brain Injury Commission

The Acquired Brain Injury Commission was first established in FY 2011 to identify the gaps in service delivery for Massachusetts residents who exhibit a history of acquired brain injury.

The Mission was to advance the present scope of community-based long-term supports and services available to individuals with brain injury in Massachusetts by providing an analysis of current services, quality of service delivery, the related needs, and gaps relative to access, capacity and resources, and to subsequently develop a series of prioritized recommendations for system change with a focus on positive outcomes for affected individuals.

Acquired Brain Injury Commission Report was reestablished, and a report was filed in the legislature in May of 2023.

Summary of Accomplishments FY ‘19 ABI Commission

  • Brain Injury Council established.
  • Bill filed (S89/H159) and hearing conducted to establish a Legislative Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Board.
  • Five Brain Injury Community Centers have been established that will serve individuals with an Acquired Brain Injury.
  • Bill filed to increase the fines that will fund the Head Injury Treatment Services (HITS) Trust fund and primary seat belt bill.
  • Update of the Epidemiological Data on Acquired Brain Injury—Traumatic Brain Injury-Inpatient Hospitalizations, Observation Stays & Emergency Department Discharges, Massachusetts Residents FFY 2016-2018.
  • Bill filed and hearing conducted to mandate commercial health insurance coverage for cognitive rehabilitation for ABI.

An Active Relative to the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund

In January 2023, Senator John Keenan and Representative Kimberly Ferguson filed the bill to increase and stagger fines to the Head Injury Treatment Services (HITS) trust fund. (S1014/H1479).

The HITS trust fund collects mandatory civil fines for speeding violations, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Driving Under the Influence of Drugs offences (OUI/DUI) and Driving to Endanger.

The bill will authorize the following fines to be deposited in the HITS trust fund:

  • Increase fines for speeding violations to $100.
  • 100% of revenues collected for OUI/DUI to be deposited in the trust fund.
  • Stagger and increase fines for multiple offenses of OUI/DUI.
  • $50 of fines collected under the Hands-Free law.

An Act Relative to Establishing a Primary Seat Belt bill

In January 2023, Senator Paul Feeney and Representatives Jeffrey Roy and Paul McMurtry filed the bill to establish a Primary Seat Belt law. (S1521/H2395)

The bill will require any person who operates a motor vehicle without a safety belt, and any person 16 years of age or over who rides as a passenger in a motor vehicle without wearing a safety belt to be subject to a fine of $50.

The Fees derived from the citations will be deposited in the Head Injury Treatment Services (HITS) Trust Fund which helps to fund services for the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP) under the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC).

 

Whether you need more information about the State Budget, Current Policy Priorities or a Federal Initiative or simply want to become an advocate, our Policy & Public Affairs team is ready to assist.

BIA-MA works with many health and disability organizations to accomplish mutual policy goals. We actively participate in several coalitions, task forces and advisory boards to harness the strengths and skills of others, maximize resources, and present a unified Voice for Brain Injury. BIA-MA is active in the following:

  • Massachusetts Brain Injury Council
  • ABI Stakeholders Advisory Board
  • Human Rights Committee (DDS)
  • MA Prevent Injuries Now Network (DPH)
  • Massachusetts Traffic Safety Coalition (DPH)
  • Partners In Prevention (MIAA)
  • Return to Learn Workgroup (DPH)
  • TBI Model Systems Advisory Board
  • UMass Safe-Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan Emphasis Area Planning Meetings
  • Youth Concussion Advisory Workgroup (DPH)

Hutchinson v. Patrick is a federal class action lawsuit approved by the Court in 2009 on behalf of 9,000 persons with brain injuries in nursing facilities and rehabilitation hospitals in Massachusetts. BIA-MA was the lead plaintiff and continues to advocate on behalf of class members and the brain injury community.  This advocacy effort embodies the mission of BIA-MA, to create better futures for those affected by brain injury.

Pursuant to its obligations under the Hutchinson v. Patrick Settlement Agreement, the Commonwealth expanded its community-based service system for persons with brain injuries, creating opportunities for transition from nursing and rehabilitation facilities to integrated community living.

As a result, Medicaid Home and Community-Based waivers were approved by the Federal Government.  These two HCBS programs, the ABI waivers, coupled with the Money Follows the Person – now known as the Moving Forward Plan (MFP) Waivers and the Money Follows the Person Demonstration Grant, played a significant role in supporting deinstitutionalization for individuals with ABI.

Click here for information regarding the ABI/MFP waivers.