Legislative Affairs Committee member John Booss, MD, a former Director of Neurology for the Department of Veterans Affairs, presented testimony on TBI and the link to post-traumatic epilepsy before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Wednesday, May 23. On behalf of the AAN, Booss specifically supported S.1233, a bill to improve rehabilitation, training and assisted-living services for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The bill is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ranking Member Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID).
Major features of S.1233 include providing rehabilitation closer to veterans' homes; providing VA physicians with opportunities to improve their expertise in TBI; and requiring the VA to create assisted-living programs to address veterans' needs. These provisions are in keeping with the AAN’s 2007 position statement on neurological care for veterans with TBI.
In his testimony, Booss also advocated for the inclusion of Epilepsy Centers of Excellence at the VA commenting that, "at one point, the VA was a national leader in care and research for patients with epilepsy. As early as 1972 the VA recognized the need for VA health centers that specialized in epilepsy. But starting in the 1990s these epilepsy centers have languished due to lack of funds. Six strategically located facilities could develop the necessary capacity to function as centers of excellence in research, education, and training in diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy." To read Booss' testimony, click here. To listen to the testimony, click here.
Although S. 1233 does not include Epilepsy Centers of Excellence at the VA, the AAN continues to make this a top priority and will likely be announcing the introduction of a bill in the next few weeks.
S.1233 is the latest piece of legislation to build upon the AAN's 2007 Neurology on the Hill successes. In late March, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced the Heroes at Home Act to improve screening for TBI in combat veterans, enhance telehealth services, and establish better training programs for injured veterans and their families for managing TBI.