Government Relations November Update

BIAA Advocates for PCORI
This week, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) participated in an advocacy day on Capitol Hill to support the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) with Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC) and the Friends of PCORI. Congress established PCORI in 2010 to fund research that can help patients and those who care for them to make better-informed decisions about health care choices they make every day, guided by those who will use that information. PCORI has funded more than $1.6 billion in research and related projects, including research in traumatic brain injury. PCORI also provides funding to help more patients and stakeholders to become involved in the research process. Congress will reauthorize PCORI in 2019.

House Releases Details of Tax Bill
The House of Representatives released its "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" yesterday, calling for changes in business and individual taxes, including changes in tax brackets and deductions. Among the changes to deductions, the bill would delete the long-standing deduction for people with high medical bills, including those with chronic conditions.

It is unknown yet what the cost would be should the bill pass. However, similar to legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the tax cut bills considered by both the House and the Senate are likely to lead to large budget cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and discretionary programs that support people with brain injury in order to pay for the lost revenue.

Lawmakers Introduce Health Care Legislation
On Nov. 1, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) announced the introduction of their legislation, the "Healthcare Market Certainty and Mandate Relief Act" (S. 2052/H.R.4200). In a press release, the lawmakers explained that "the legislation would pair concrete, structural Obamacare reforms with a temporary funding extension for the health law's cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program." The purpose is to address challenges and issues impacting the current health care system. The proposals are to provide relief from the employer mandates and the Health Savings Account expansion policies.

House Committee Passes VETS Act
The House Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously passed H.R. 2123, the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 (VETS) Act, yesterday. The bill gives the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) authority to allow VA providers to practice telemedicine across state lines, regardless of whether the patient or provider is located on federal government property. BIAA is on record supporting the bill.