Corey and I met with Senator Patricia Vance today. Senator Vance is the Chair of the Public Health and Welfare Committee for Pennsylvania. We met to discuss how we can garner heightened awareness for TBI. In addition we discussed the lack of education, training and funding for research as well as long term acute/post acute care and rehabilitation required to regain functional improvement especially for a survivor of a severe injury.
The Center of Disease and Control recently updated their TBI statistics. 3.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury annually. That number represents the spectrum from concussion to severe injury. 5.3 million Americans have lifelong disabilities due to TBI. In the last 10 years, 244,000 service members were affected by TBI.
To put this in perspective 3.5 million injured;
~ Equals every individual currently residing in the State of Connecticut
~ Or represents every individual living in the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island combined.
5.3 million Individuals living with permanent disabilities;
~ Equals every resident in the state of Minnesota
~ Or represents 80% of all residents living in Massachusetts
~ and/or represents 60% of all residents living in New Jersey.
TBI’s annual cost to the government is estimated to be $76.5 billion annually. The average lifetime health care costs for the TBI patient are roughly 85,000 for moderate to mild injuries and can exceed 3 million for severe injuries.
Each state shares the funding for their individual Medicaid/Medicare programs with the Federal Government. Pennsylvania has Waiver programs that assist with funding home and community based programs/services. Currently these programs and waivers are closed for admission and those that have “wait lists” are scheduled for significant budget cuts. The demand for the services exceeds the current financial capacity of the programs.
At the State level, we asked Senator Vance for her help in arranging a Senate hearing to educate our legislators. Although she agreed it could help the TBI cause, she was truly eager to brainstorm with us on how to reach a larger forum and how she could help promote Corey’s Story. We both agreed, she is the perfect “Poster Child” for a successful recovery.
We not only discussed networking within the state but Senator Vance also shared contacts at the Federal level. She offered to make introductions that we hope will lead to more effective networking. We brainstormed on strategies to move along the grass roots line utilizing local public media as well as working with the VA movement in order to reach national awareness.
Corey sat quietly for most of our meeting. At one point, Senator Vance explained some budgetary limitations that could explain the impending funding cuts. Corey interjected, “you’re spending time on the wrong things”. Senator Vance looked at me, smiled and turned back to acknowledge Corey’s statement; “for this cause, I can’t argue with you on that point”.
Overall it was a very productive meeting. Corey and I are very grateful to Senator Vance for her support, enthusiasm and willingness to promote greater awareness for TBI. We look forward to working with her, xoxo