While there are some difficult realities surrounding New York State’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver, all attendees at the first Brain Injury Summit held in Albany this week agree that the waiver is far more a blessing than it is a curse. Nearly 3,000 adults who live with brain injuries live in the community because of the waiver, and that is good news. There are also no plans to end the TBI Waiver. Deep breath all.
The summit was recorded and once I figure out how to post it online in its entirety, it will be posted. Transparency is critically important.
The attendees at this week’s two-hour summit, hosted by the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition, pledged in no uncertain terms to work together to address the challenges now faced by waiver participants, providers and, not incidentally, by the New York State Department of Health which deals with the perpetual pressures faced by any regulatory agency, particularly during hard economic times.
Those who attended the summit were (in alphabetical order) :
Marie Cavallo, president, Brain Injury Association of NY State
Bill Combes, NY State Commission on Quality of Care
Karina Davis-Corr, Providers Alliance
Peter S. Kahrmann, Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition
Mark Kissinger, Deputy Commissioner, NY State Department of Health
Sandra Ryden, Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition
Mary Seeley, acting Executive Director, Brain Injury Association of NY State
Joe Vollaro, Providers Alliance
While I can’t and won’t speak for the others at this meeting, I can tell you that discussion was wide ranging, direct, deeply respectful on all fronts, and serious. It was and is not lost on any of us that there are real financial pressures on everyone that are not of our own making.
I did say that they number one complaint I hear from people who live with brain injuries (and people with disabilities of all kinds) is we get treated like we are children, and in some cases like we are barely human. Part of the reason for this is a rather global lack of understanding about the brain and brain injury thus putting the most well-intentioned among us in the untenable position of having to make choices and decisions while not fully understanding the role the brain injury is playing in the person they are working with.
I also said, and all agreed, that there were no villains at the table, and this includes the DOH, the most commonly villainized of all. The DOH is like any other large entity. Some of its workers are great, some aren’t.
As a result of the summit the Providers Alliance will begin to meet with the DOH at a cadence both parties agree on, and that is good news all around.
I am not going to go into a slew of details at this point. But I can tell you this, and if you know me or know of me you’ll know this is true, I genuinely felt everyone at the table truly gave a damn. If I did not feel this way, I would tell you.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention that I raised the subject of Timothy J. Feeney being only “moments” away from being part of the neurobehavioral project again, a disgraceful and despicable reality no matter how you hold it up to the light. However, the “hands” that manipulated the course that is poised to allow a clinical predator like Feeney back into the mix were not at the table. It is not yet clear who pulled the strings, but it will be. Trust me. It is just a matter of time.
One piece of Feeney-related good news that came to light at the summit is this: waiver providers are free to choose not to work with Feeney. Therefore, providers who do choose to work with him are, by default, acknowledging they don’t truly give a damn about the people they serve.
The next summit is scheduled for December 10, 2010.