McCaskill Asks Military to Expand Treatment for Troops Suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries
Current military health insurance denies access to proven therapies
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill this week asked the Department of Defense to expand health care coverage for the nearly 20 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who may be suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). McCaskill and nine of her Senate colleagues are urging Secretary Robert Gates to expand TRICARE, the military's health insurance program, to include cognitive rehabilitation therapy, a proven treatment for TBI which is currently excluded from the insurance policy.
"We are concerned that at a time when TBI is recognized as the signature wound of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the most widely accepted and critical rehabilitative treatments for this injury, known as cognitive rehabilitation therapy, is excluded by the military's TRICARE health insurance program," the ten senators wrote in a letter sent to Gates.
Cognitive rehabilitation is proven to improve brain function following traumatic brain injuries, which can negatively affect concentration, memory, and problem-solving and decision-making abilities. As many as 320,000 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may be affected by TBI. Without a change in the current TRICARE policy, these soldiers will not have access to cognitive rehabilitation therapy to treat their injuries.
Along with McCaskill, Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Barack Obama (D-IL), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John Kerry (D-MA), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) signed the letter.