Some thoughts on NY State’s TBI Council

For several reasons, immoveable objects all, I will not be able to attend the meeting this Friday of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council (TBISCC). Given this, I thought I might offer a few thoughts about the council (the council agenda will be presented at the end of this missive).

There is no doubt that the TBISCC, were it blessed with healthy leadership, could play a very healthy role in the lives of New York State residents who live with brain injuries. There is certainly no harm, nor do I think anyone in the state’s Department of Health would be upset, were the council to live up to its mandate and offer healthy proposals so that the state might better support the right of those living with brain injuries to live as independently as possible.

In order for this to happen, the council must free itself of the self-absorbed rather unpleasant likes of Michael Kaplen. As an earlier piece in this blog explains, Kaplen’s term on the council expired in 2004 . This fact has not stopped Kaplen from acting as the council’s chair.  The council’s vice-chair, Judith Avner, saw her term expire in 2003, yet she too remains on the council.

Kaplen and Avner are wrong to continue in their current posts when their terms have long since expired. Council members need to step up and address the issue. This writer, as readers of this blog already know, thinks Kaplen needs to leave the world of brain injury altogether, the sooner the better. However, the council would benefit from Avner’s continued presence as a representative of the Brain Injury Association of NY State. She is their executive director. While I do not think BIANYS members ought to be on the council proper since BIANYS receives funding from the New York State Department of Health, I think it is critically important that BIANYS have a firm seat at the table as a non-voting council member, much like various state agencies do.

There are some good people on the council and, though we’ve clashed from time to time, there are some good people in the NY State DOH. This next meeting will be a litmus test for all. Will they allow Kaplen to just push on forward as if he is still the chair and say nothing? Or, will they hold him accountable, and dismiss him from the council, or, document he has been reappointed by God knows what fool, and then hold elections for the chair and vice-chair of the council?

If the council acts as if its business as usual, and Kaplen is allowed to remain at its head, then every single person in the room has brutally betrayed the very people they are pledged to serve, New York State residents who live with brain injuries and their families and friends.




NYS Department of Health

875 Central Avenue, Albany, New York

(Main Conference Room)

Friday, April 20, 2012

10:30 AM – 3:30 PM


10:30am – 10:45am Welcome

Introduction of New Member

Review and Approval of Minutes from

September 12, 2011 Meeting

10:45am – 12:00pm New York State Five Year TBI Action Plan

Carla Williams, Deputy Director, Division of Long Term Care, NYSDOH

12:00pm – 1:15pm LUNCH (Members on their own)

1:15pm – 2:00pm Impact of MRT proposals on TBI and NHTD waivers:

Medicaid Managed Care and Repatriation of individuals served out of NYS

Jason Helgerson, Deputy Commissioner, Office of Health Insurance Programs and NYSDOH Medicaid Director

2:00pm – 2:30pm Update on Stakeholder Committee Discussion of Coordinated Medicaid Managed Care Program for Individuals with TBI

Joseph Vollaro, PhD.

2:30pm – 3:00pm Subcommittee reports

· Healthcare Reform/Non-Waiver Service Needs

· Public Awareness/ Injury Prevention and Information Dissemination

3:00pm – 3:30pm Public Comment/Summary/Next Steps/Adjournment


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