Some individuals in Cumberland County with traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, could be getting some assistance. A TBI is classified as an injury to the brain that has been caused by an external force. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).”
The CDC estimates the prevalence rate of TBI to be 2 percent of the population, which is approximately 200,000 North Carolinians.
Last November, the Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services introduced an Adult and Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot Program (S.L. 2017-57, Section 11F.9; Senate Bill 582). According to a document prepared by Dave Richard and Mark Benton of the Department of Health and Human Services, “The purpose is to increase compliance with internationally approved evidence-based treatment guidelines. The goals include reduction in patient mortality, improve patient level of recovery and reduce longterm care costs.”
The General Assembly, last fall, approved $450,000 in funding to allow between three and five hospitals to participate in a TBI pilot program. Senate Bill 582 indicates that $150,000 was committed for the program in the 2017-18 state budget with $300,000 committed to the 2018-19 state budget. The funding was appropriated to the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse.
Alliance Behavioral Healthcare was selected by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to administer the pilot waiver for TBI in its four-county service region. Cumberland County is one of the four counties. The other counties Alliance serves are Durham, Johnston and Wake. Medicare and Medicaid Services recently approved the waiver for implementation in late summer 2018.
“This waiver is an important milestone in North Carolina’s commitment to improving the life and well-being of individuals who experience a traumatic brain injury,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “The waiver includes rehabilitation services such as supported employment, life skills training, cognitive rehabilitation and day supports.”
The TBI waiver program is designed to provide community-based rehabilitative services and support to help TBI patients with recovery. TBI patients will need to meet certain eligibility criteria to participate. The TBI will have to have happened on or after their 22nd birthday. They need to have cognitive, behavioral and physical support needs.
The TBI patients will also need to meet certain financial eligibility requirements. A news release from NCDHHS states, “To qualify, the adults must require the level of care for a nursing facility or specialty rehabilitation hospital.” This pilot will last three years. In the first year, the waiver will include 49 individuals participating, increasing each year to 107 participants by year three. The TBI pilot program will launch in late summer 2018.
If you have questions about eligibility, call Alliance’s 24-hour Access and Information line at 800-510-9132. Alliance is asking that callers please specifically ask for information on the TBI waiver when they call. Callers should expect to experience a brief crisis screening initially.