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Joanne Susi

"I lost consciousness in the helicopter and I remember thinking I was dead, and that this was the end…then nothing,” Jim has no memory of his time in the hospital during his stroke, but came out the other side dedicated to fight his way back. And fight he did!
Read Jim's story.

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An Act Improving Lives by Ensuring Access to Brain Injury Treatment (Formally known as the Cognitive-Rehabilitation Bill)

In January of 2017, Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Kimberly Ferguson filed a bill in support of cognitive rehabilitation.  The bill was re-named an Act Improving Lives by Ensuring Access to Brain Injury Treatment (S.502/H.2166).  

This bill will ensure that commercial health insurance plans include cognitive rehabilitation services for individuals with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).Click here to see the Cog Rehab flyer

The bill's benefits come at no cost to the state and will help reverse the trend of health costs currently dependent on state or federal funds when they are not covered by commercial health benefit plans. Key components of the bill, which are intended for commercial health benefit plans only, are highlighted below.

  • Health benefit plans can not include any life time limitation or unreasonable annual limitation on the number of days for acute and post-acute care.
  • The health benefit plan must also include coverage for reasonable expenses for periodic reevaluation.
  • The health benefit plan must provide adequate training to personnel responsible for preauthorization of coverage or utilization review in order to prevent denial of coverage.
  • Expansion of coverage for treatment facilities to include individual practitioners and treatment facilities qualified to provide acute and post-acute care.

BIA-MA needs your support to ensure that commercial insurers are required to cover cognitive rehabilitation.  Your calls, visits and/or emails will make the difference.  It is crucial that you act now!

Click here to find my Legislator 

Status of the Cognitive Rehabilitation Bill

Almost 4 years ago, the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA) began its involvement to actively advocate for the passage of a Cognitive Rehabilitation bill. 

The Cognitive Rehabilitation Bill has moved along with favorable votes in both Financial Services and Healthcare Finance committees – moving it two steps along the legislative process. The bill remains in Senates Ways & Means and we continue to push for its passage.

On July 18, 2017, the Joint Committee on Financial Services held a hearing for the Cognitive Rehabilitation bill.  At the hearing, Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) and Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) both testified in support of the bill.  Senator Chandler explained to the Committee that “cognitive rehabilitation has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing cognitive disability following brain injury and should be covered by private medical insurance.”    Representative Ferguson added she felt “particularly strong about this legislation due to my background as a speech/language pathologist and someone who has personally worked with those with brain injuries”. Read more.

In October 2016, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) released its report.  CHIA found that costs for typical monthly rates would range from $.01 to $.19 per month.  Click here to see the CHIA report

In March 2016, the Financial Services Committee referred the bill to the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) for a cost study.  CHIA hired contractor Compass Health Analytics to do the actual examination.  BIA-MA spoke with Compass to give them a “10,000 foot view” on brain injury.  BIA-MA also provided them with a list of research/information on cognitive rehabilitation therapy, names of various professionals in the field and trade groups to help with their evaluation.   On July 6, 2016, the Financial Services Committee had not received the CHIA report and as a result referred the bill “to study”. 

During the last week of February 2016, the Joint Committee on Financial Services referred the Cognitive Rehabilitation bill to theCenter for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA).  CHIA's roll is to inform the Committee on the cost on health insurance rates if this bill is passed.  The Committee has extended the deadline for the report to July 6th.  BIA-MA will continue to keep everyone up to date on the status of the bill. The Cognitive Rehabilitation bill progressed further during this first legislative session than expected.  The Financial Services Committee only referred a small number of bills to CHIA.  The Committee sends those bills that are under serious consideration to CHIA.  BIA-MA will spend the remainder of this year waiting for the CHIA report and then formulating a comprehensive strategic plan on how to best use this information for the 2017-2018 legislative session for our next advocacy campaign.  Stay tuned for further updates!

On November 5, 2015, the Joint Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on the bill.  The hearing room was packed with over fifty supporters, all dressed in blue, to show their support for the bill and brain injury awareness.  BIA-MA has not seen an advocacy effort as powerful as this one in recent memory.  Over 7,000 Action Alerts were submitted to the Committee and with a little over 400 to each member.  Nearly 200 people submitted personal stories that BIA-MA will use when meeting individually with the legislators.  This bill will ensure that commercial health insurance plans include cognitive rehabilitation services for individuals with acquired & traumatic brain injury. 

For more information about Advocacy at BIA-MA, contact Kelly Buttiglieri at 508-475-0032 or