Governor Yet To Appoint Brain Injury Committee

Committee Supposed To Be Appointed By May 1

Some Hoosier families are questioning why Gov. Mitch Daniels has yet to appoint a committee aimed at boosting brain injury services in Indiana.

Per Senate Enrolled Act 15, passed this past legislative session, the governor must appoint the 12-member brain injury treatment advisory committee no later than May 1, 2012.

"I don't know why the governor's office hasn't appointed the committee," said June Holt, mother of a 33-year-old with a brain injury caused by a brain tumor. "It just makes you feel really crummy."

Holt and other parents fought for the creation of the committee, saying it will help identify which services are missing in Indiana and what needs to be done.

It's supposed to meet four times and issue a report by Oct. 1.

"It's August, and the committee hasn't even been appointed," said Holt.

An estimated 12,000 Hoosiers develop a brain injury every year, from strokes, accidents, tumors or other causes, yet some find it difficult to find brain injury services in Indiana.

"We've had a real struggle finding services, and we're often dumped into black holes," said Holt.

The Brain Injury Association of Indiana said brain injuries are more prevalent than breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, yet services are lacking.

"Indiana has some great brain injury facilities, but they are largely hospital based," said Dr. Lance Trexler, chairman of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana. "So what we need to bring into the state are the residential rehabilitation programs for people with brain injuries."

A recent report from the Generations Project showed taxpayers spend roughly $16 million a year in Medicaid costs to send brain injury patients for out-of-state treatment.

Jake Oakman, spokesperson for Daniels, told RTV6 the governor was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

"There is no timetable for the appointment," wrote Oakman in an email to RTV6.

The Indiana State Department of Health, which is expected to staff the committee, referred questions to the governor's office and refused further comment.

Trexler said in the spring, the association provided the state a list of 12 names of people who would be good choices for the committee.

"We recently found out they want three names per position," said Trexler. "It's taking us a bit longer than I would like, because what the legislation calls for are very specific kinds of people, so we're pulling that together and hope to have that done in the next few weeks."

Holt is hoping for swift action, because every day that goes by, dozens of Hoosiers will develop some type of brain injury.

"People with brain injuries really need care," said Holt. "It's just not there in the ER, in the physician's office or the therapy departments."

The committee is supposed to consist of one member representing the Brain Injury Association of Indiana, health care providers, a rate setting contractor, a consumer, a psychologist, a caregiver and a representative of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

More Information:

Senate Enrolled Act 15

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