On Sunday, June 8, as part of the Transportation Omnibus Bill, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law Resource Facilitation for Persons with Brain Injury in Minnesota, an example of a true silver lining in a tough legislative session
The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota decided to push the legislation this session under less than ideal conditions, as Minnesota faced the worst budget deficit in its history. The Association went forward with one of the most aggressive legislative agendas it has ever implemented.
Resource Facilitation (RF) is information, resources and access to services and support for children and adults with brain injury and their families. Based on the Hospital Discharge and Follow-Along Pilot Program, RF will provide this support for persons with brain injury for two years from the point of hospitalization. Regular follow-ups are conducted at six weeks and six, 12, 18 and 24 months after hospital discharge.
The TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Discharge Program pilot project worked with four hospitals, but under RF all hospitals across the state are eligible to receive the same service, opening up access to all Minnesotans who sustain a brain injury.
The majority of the bill’s sponsors were legislators that had attended a Legislative Home Visit in their district and had the opportunity to come face-to-face with their constituents to learn about how brain injury affects their communities. The bill’s main supporters (regardless of authorship) were legislators who had contact from their voters. Many legislators made several references to the personal letters they received from their constituents. Others spoke about the phone calls from those citizens and the individual meetings. Supporting and reminding the legislators about the importance of services for persons with brain injury were the letters to the editor submitted around the state by a few dedicated advocates.
The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota would like to thank everyone involved throughout the long and often challenging journey. First, thank you to everyone who hosted Legislative Home Visits in 2002. You laid the foundation for our work.
Thank you to the chief authors, Senator Ranum and Representative Abeler. These two legislators fought an amazing battle on behalf of people with brain injury and never gave up. They were never short on good advice, courage and encouraging words.
A special thank you to the Jenson family, who put extensive time and resources into advocating for this legislation. The Jensons met with their legislators and bravely testified in front of the Senate Finance, Transportation Policy and Budget Division on behalf of Resource Facilitation. The Jensons also wrote personal letters to all 201 state legislators and responded to every Action Alert above and beyond the call of duty. Together we made a difference!