AAN Supports Establishing Epilepsy Centers with New Legislation

June 22, 2007

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Legislation creating Epilepsy Centers of Excellence in the Veterans Administration has been introduced in Congress in response to AAN efforts at its annual Capitol Hill advocacy program, Neurology on the Hill.

The House bill, H.R. 2818, sponsored by Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) will create six epilepsy centers of excellence that will be overseen by the VA Director of Neurology. This legislation mirrors the successful AAN effort to permanently authorize similar Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's disease centers of excellence in the last Congress. The Senate bill will be sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and will be introduced soon.

"The focus on epilepsy is of significance because of the high likelihood of increased cases due to high rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) seen in service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," said John Booss, MD. "We are concerned that the VA lacks a national program for epilepsy with clear guidelines on when to refer patients for further assessment and treatment of epilepsy," continued Booss, who testified on this issue before the Senate Veterans" Affairs Committee in May.

"As the father of a daughter with epilepsy, I understand and am committed to making sure our nation can provide the critical medical care and research necessary to give these brave veterans the highest quality medical treatment," said Perlmutter.

"The VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence Act of 2007 will create six VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (Epilepsy CoEs) across the country that will lead the way in epilepsy diagnosis, research, treatment and surgery," said Perlmutter. "They will attract the best scientists in the field to conduct state of the art research into different cures and medications for veterans experiencing epileptic seizures. Our service men and women bravely fought for us, now it is time to fight for them and provide them with the best, highest quality medical care available."

The House bill was referred to the Veterans' Affairs Committees. The AAN will keep you up to date as these bills move through the congressional process.

Read a summary of the bill. For more information, please contact the AAN's Legislative Counsel in Washington, DC, Mike Amery, at mamery@aan.com.