Mary Hass

Chair

Biography

The needs of individuals with brain injury and their families has been a passion and life mission that I have worked and advocated for over the last 30 years ever since my brother, David suffered a brain injury in 1991 and my sister, Theresa in 2006. As a volunteer over those many years, I have advocated for legislation and public policy to address the needs of the brain injury community in Kentucky. I have done peer counseling for hundreds of people here in the Commonwealth affected by brain injury.

The recognition and awareness of the ongoing need for supports and neurobehavioral services for our Kentucky brain injured citizens’ dates back to 1996. In 1996 as President of the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky I established a Residential Concerns Task Force along with brain injury individuals, their family members, brain injury providers, and state workers from Voc-Rehab. Two of the recommendations from that group were the need for a specialized adult behavioral residential program along with specialized brain injury services to the Medicaid population in Kentucky.

From those recommendations in 1998, the state of Kentucky implemented its first Brain Injury Waiver to provide specialized supports to the brain injury Medicaid population. Also in 1998, I spearheaded efforts for legislation that was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly for the Kentucky TBI Trust Fund as a payor of last resort for services to individuals and their families who had suffered a brain injury.  I served as a Board member and Chair of the TBI Trust Fund Board for 20-plus years.

The Brain Injury Association of Kentucky Board of Directors re-elected me President of the Board in 1999. During that year I continued my outreach to our state elected representatives in Frankfort for the needs and supports for the thousands of Kentuckians with brain injury.

In 2002 I advocated for a Resolution passed by the Kentucky Legislature that established a Brain Injury Legislative Task Force which I was a member. That Task Force made a recommendation for long-term residential services to individuals with brain injuries. Fortunately in 2004 as a result of this recommendation the Commonwealth of Kentucky established a second Brain Injury Waiver to provide long-term supports and residential care to individuals with brain injuries.

In April 2004, the Kentucky Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund presented a Strategic Plan which I chaired to the Governor of Kentucky and Kentucky legislators.

Several Goals of the Plan were to develop and fund a neurobehavioral program for people with brain injuries we also presented the need for legislation to prevent brain injuries in the state.

I coordinated efforts for passage of 2016 Legislation, HB 254 TJ’s Bill (bicycle safety by wearing a helmet). The efforts included overseeing of Coalition Members; UL Trauma & UK Trauma folks along with Safe Kids, K-Span, and Kentucky Hospital Association to help promote the passage of this legislation. Unfortunately, we were unable to gain passage of this legislation. We continue our work to bring TJ’s Bill to the Governor’s desk.

Presently I am a board member of the Brain Injury Association of America- Kentucky Chapter which I am advocating for keeping rehabilitative therapies in both of the ABI Medicaid Waivers through the renewal process with Kentucky Medicaid & CMS. Also, I work closely with our elected State Senators and Representatives by educating lawmakers and policymakers on the importance of keeping therapies in the ABI Waivers plus attending state Health & Welfare committee meetings.

To date, I am “on call” to families and professionals as an advisor and advocate for Kentucky individuals with brain injury as a resource for services, treatment, avenues to contact legislators that will make an impact, access decision makers to get answers for loved ones to move the process of supports and care forward.