Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1), co-chair of the bipartisan Military Veterans Caucus, today again secured the passage of his bipartisan amendment with Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) to expedite new and innovative treatments to our nations' veterans and active duty soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is the second time the House has passed the amendment. In May, the TBI treatment expansion initiative was adopted as a House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), however the Senate has yet to take up this bill. Today it was passed as an amendment to H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The amendment passed by voice vote. The House will vote on H.R. 5856 later this week.
"Our troops and veterans have earned the very best treatment and care that we can provide," said Thompson. "But sometimes the best treatments aren't available at military and veteran medical facilities. My amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTSD have access to the highest quality care our nation has to offer. I will keep introducing this legislation until it is law. It's what our heroes have earned."
"I am pleased that our colleagues have joined us in recognizing the importance of providing treatment options not currently available within military and veteran medical facilities to those who return from combat with TBI or PTSD," said Sessions. "As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, I believe we can best honor our nation's active duty soldiers and veterans by ensuring that their health is a top priority and that they have access to the most effective treatments available."
"The bi-partisan Amendment offered by Congressman Thompson and Congressman Sessions will provide additional resources to the VA and DoD to formally collaborate with non-government organizations, such as The Pathway Home in Yountville, to provide timely, cost-effective and quality alternative treatment to veterans who have symptoms of PTSD and TBI," said Fred Gusman, Executive Director of the Pathway Home in Yountville.
Between 2000 an 2011 more than 230,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI. Up to 18 percent of U.S. military personnel returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD symptoms.
Thompson's and Sessions' TBI treatment amendment creates a new five-year $10 million pilot program that allows military patients to receive treatment from health care facilities outside of the VA that are utilizing an array of leading-edge, successful therapies to treat TBI and PTSD. Physicians and residential treatment centers like The Pathway Home may qualify for payment from the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs through a "pay-for-performance" plan, meaning they must prove that a patient has experienced demonstrable improvement. Treatment and reimbursement safeguards in the amendment ensure access to innovative private treatments while reserving payment only for treatments that work.
To reach the long-term objective of incorporating leading-edge medical practices into military hospitals, Thompson's and Sessions' TBI treatment initiative requires an annual report to Congress on the results of the program. It also requires a report on how each Department Secretary plans to integrate successful methods into their own medical facilities, encouraging a constant flow of new and innovative treatments.