One of the main problems with public awareness of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is that it is a largely invisible disease. If one cannot see the symptoms manifest physically, it may be easy to ignore the real struggles and burdens TBI survivors and their families face. This is why non-profit organizations calling for funding and research of brain injuries are so vital in our country.
The National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan Act was submitted in 2011 for approval by Congress, but the bill failed to pass. The act would have provided almost $3 billion in federal funding, which, according to the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, would have “[provided] complete national coverage and the ability to standardize the system of care while still providing the flexibility for each state to have its own pathway to universal accessibility.” In a nutshell, the act sought to provide healthcare to any child affected by brain injury, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
Patrick B. Donohue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, published an open letter to President Barack Obama in 2014, in which he reintroduced his plan in hopes that the President would sign it into law, doing what Congress failed to do three years earlier. Donohue’s daughter suffered a TBI after being violently shaken by a caregiver when she was only a few weeks old.
Donohue’s plan calls on many government agencies to step up and get involved, including The Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Urban Development. Each department, he says, has a stake in preventing brain injuries to American citizens.
Amazingly, the bill now has even more support in Congress than it did the first time around, with the number of co-sponsors up to 145. The bill’s supporters range from the most conservative member of Congress to the most liberal. The PABI Plan also has the support of dozens of national organizations, including The American Academy of Cerebral Palsy & Development Medicine, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Neurology and The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
No single explanation can be given as to why the plan failed to pass back in 2011, but in 2014, Donohue and his supporters are increasingly hopeful.
At Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P, we know firsthand the terrible trauma and difficulty families must endure after an adult or child suffers a brain injury. If someone in your family has suffered in this way, please contact our attorneys practicing in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. to review your situation and offer you legal options.