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2nd Annual Advocacy Day at the State House - February 1, 2017

On February 1, 2017, BIA-MA held its 2nd Annual Advocacy Day at the State House.

Over 200 legislators, brain injury survivors, volunteers, and BIA-MA employees attended the event, held at Grand Staircase on the second floor. The occasion was held to emphasize the importance of continued legislation to bring services and supports to individuals with brain injury.

Our speakers included:

  • Secretary Marylou Sudders, Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS)
  • Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester)
  • Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden)
  • Assistant Commissioner Josh Mendelsohn, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
  • David Dwork, President of BIA-MA
  • Nicole M. Godaire, Executive Director of BIA-MA

Secretary Sudders introduced many attendees to EOHHS’ various departments and divisions for the first time.  She highlighted in more detail the services available under Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.  Secretary Sudders then informed the audience that under the Governor’s budget an extra $20 million dollars was allocated for the implementation of the Hutchinson v. Patrick decision.   The Hutchinson case allowed individuals with a brain injury to move out of nursing facilities and into community residences.
Senator Chandler and Representative Ferguson reinforced the legislative efforts for our three current advocacy efforts:

  • Funding for the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP), a state program that runs community-based programs for persons with traumatic brain injury.
  • S.502/H.2166 - an Act Improving Lives by Ensuring Access to Brain Injury Treatment (Cognitive Rehabilitation Bill).  The bill requiring commercial health insurance companies to cover cognitive rehabilitation for acquired brain injury survivors;
  • S1168/H.1956 - Resolve to Re-Commission the Brain Injury Commission.

Assistant Commissioner Josh Mendelsohn described the various services available under SHIP.   SHIP has a network of community-based services and supports that assists individuals in maintaining or increasing their level of independence at home, work and in their communities.  SHIP has been level funded for services for a number of years and he emphasized the importance of the program to the brain injury community.

David Dwork introduced legislators and aides not familiar with BIA-MA of its founding and background.  He further explained the mission of the organization and its goals of each department.  Nicole Godaire spoke in detail on how to advocate when meeting with one’s legislators.  Most importantly, she stressed the effectiveness of emphasizing one’s personal story.

Following a boxed lunch, attendees had the opportunity to meet with their legislators or their staff to advocate for our three main objectives and to share their personal story.

Many BIA-MA Partners attended including the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Advocates, Vinfen, NeuroRestorative, Supportive Living, Inc., and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network to provide information to all present.

Concurrent with the event, BIA-MA displayed the “Commonwealth of Massachusetts Exhibit" on the Fourth floor of the State House. The states were decorated brain injury survivors, family members or caregivers at one of BIA-MA's 55 Support Group locations statewide. BIA-MA Support Groups, sponsored by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, provide brain injury survivors and their loved ones a forum for sharing and support. The states on display were a visual reminder of just how many people are affected by brain injuries across the Commonwealth.

BIA-MA thanks our speakers, exhibitors, legislators, and attendees who made the trip to the State House!

For more information about Advocacy at BIA-MA, contact Kelly Buttiglieri at 508-475-0032 or kbuttiglieri@biama.org