BUY THIS DOMAIN

House Passes TBI Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007

The House passed H.R. 2199 yesterday, by a vote of 421 — 0.

This bill amends Title 38 to improve the treatment and care of military personnel with traumatic brain injuries. It adds a new subchapter to the code: “Traumatic Brain Injuries.”

Some key points of this bill are:

Representative Michael Michaud (D-ME), who sponsored this legislation, wrote on his Web site:

TBI is considered by many to be the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Michaud. “It is important to remember that not all the wounds from this war are visible. Severe TBI is often easily recognizable, but mild and moderate TBI can be harder to detect. Because of this, some veterans may not even know that they are suffering from TBI and may go untreated. Passing this bill is a huge step forward for the detection and treatment of this long-term injury.”

Michaud’s legislation, the Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007 (H.R. 2199), is the result of the efforts of members from both sides of the aisle to address TBI and to begin to improve the outreach and oversight of health care provided to our rural veterans. The bill requires screening of veterans for TBI; establishes a comprehensive program for long-term TBI rehabilitation to be located at four geographically dispersed locations; creates TBI transition offices at each of the polytrauma network sites; requires the development of a TBI registry; authorizes funds for the establishment of centers for TBI research, education, and clinical activities; and forms the Committee on Care of Veterans with TBI.

The Associated Press reported:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a meeting with veterans service organizations Wednesday, said Democrats promised a new direction when they captured the congressional majority and “nowhere is that more important than in our treatment of our troops and our veterans.”

My Opinions

We have four polytrauma centers, this bill allocates funds for eight instead of the 21 which Representative Altmire proposed in The Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Act. However, it will also create ten mobile centers in rural areas.

It is terrific that Title 38 was amended to recognize TBI, and this bill is certainly a step in the right direction.

Update: I misunderstood the finances until I read the Cost Estimate, so I included the Budget Cost Estimate to make everything clear.

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

May 22, 2007

H.R. 2199
Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007

As ordered reported by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 15, 2007

SUMMARY

H.R. 2199 would expand the health care available to veterans with traumatic brain injuries and would create a pilot program to provide mental health care and services to veterans in rural areas.

CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) $27 million in 2008 and $138 million over the 2008-2012 period, assuming the appropriation of the necessary amounts. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

H.R. 2199 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The estimated budgetary impact of H.R. 2199 is shown in the following table. The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 700 (veterans benefits and services).

BASIS OF ESTIMATE

For this estimate, CBO assumes the legislation will be enacted near the end of fiscal year 2007, that the necessary funds for implementing the bill will be provided each year, and that the outlays will follow historical spending patterns for the VA medical services program. H.R. 2199 would require the Secretary of VA to create several programs that would enhance the care provided to veterans with traumatic brain injuries. The bill also would establish a pilot program that would use mobile centers to provide counseling and other health services to veterans in rural areas. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2199 would cost $27 million in 2008 and $138 million over the 2008-2012 period, subject to appropriation of the necessary amounts.

Changes In Spending Subject To Appropriation By Fiscal Year, in Millions of Dollars
  200720082009201020112012
Estimated Authorization Level0303636299
Estimated Outlays02735362911

Traumatic Brain Injury Centers

Section 2 would require VA to establish and operate up to five centers for research, education, and clinical activities focused on traumatic brain injury. CBO expects that those centers would be located within existing VA medical centers and would be established after a facility submits a proposal to be designated as a traumatic brain injury center and a peer review panel determines that the proposal meets certain standards. H.R. 2199 would authorize the appropriation of $10 million in 2008 and $20 million in each of years 2009 through 2011 to support those centers. CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost $9 million in 2008 and $70 million over the 2008-2012 period.

Long-Term Care for Traumatic Brain Injury

Section 2 also would require a program of long-term care, to include residential facilities, community-based care, and home-based care for veterans with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries. The program would be carried out at four VA medical centers that already specialize in care for servicemembers with multiple injuries. VA already provides long-term care for veterans with severe traumatic brain injuries, either at a VA medical facility, at a state-run veterans’ nursing home, or through contract care provided in the veteran’s community. VA has indicated that it would meet the requirements of this section by creating four centers that would specialize in caring for veterans with brain injuries, in addition to the four centers that already exist. Based on information from VA regarding the number of employees needed to staff these centers and the renovation and equipment needed to establish a center, CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost $11 million in 2008 and about $45 million over the 2008-2012 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts each year.

Mobile Health Centers for Rural Veterans

Section 3 would authorize a three-year pilot program in which VA would use mobile health centers to provide readjustment counseling and related health services to veterans in rural areas. The bill would require the use of two mobile centers in each of five specific geographic areas. Other mobile centers could be established if the Secretary determined they were needed. In addition to counseling and mental health services, the mobile centers would advise veterans of other benefits they may be eligible for and, to the extent possible, would help the veterans to apply for those additional benefits.

H.R. 2199 would authorize the appropriation of $7.5 million a year for three years to fund the mobile centers. CBO estimates that implementing this section would cost $7 million in 2008 and about $22 million over the 2008-2012 period.

Other Provisions

Section 2 also would require VA to:

CBO estimates that implementing those additional provisions would have an insignificant impact on discretionary spending.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE-SECTOR IMPACT

H.R. 2199 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

ESTIMATE PREPARED BY:

Federal Costs: Michelle S. Patterson
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Melissa Merrell
Impact on the Private Sector: Victoria Liu

ESTIMATE APPROVED BY:

Peter H. Fontaine
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis