U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Pete Sessions (TX-32) announced today that their bipartisan legislation to improve treatment options for veterans and active duty soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) passed the House. This amendment to H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014, allows veterans and service members to access innovative treatments offered outside military and veteran medical facilities.
"Our troops and veterans have earned the very best care America has to offer," said Thompson. "When the best treatments aren't available at military and veteran medical facilities, then our servicemembers should be able to go elsewhere. Our amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTS have access to the best care, no matter where it's provided."
"I'm delighted that our House colleagues have joined us in supporting this initiative to ensure that our troops have access to the most effective treatments available," said Sessions. "By prioritizing treatment results over treatment location, our nation's heroes who return from combat with TBI and PTSD will have the option to utilize an array of leading-edge therapies. They deserve nothing less than to receive the most successful and highest quality care in America."
Thompson's and Sessions' 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 PTS.
Under Thompson's and Sessions' amendment, physicians and residential treatment centers like The Pathway Home in Yountville, CA 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.
"Today, veterans and active duty soldiers across the country feel sense of hopefulness that their need for access to best practice treatment for Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury is close at hand. The bipartisan amendment to H.R. 1960, sponsored by Congressmen Mike Thompson and Pete Session is example of how leaders in Washington DC can come together like our military personnel on battlefield," said Fred Gusman, Executive Director of the Pathway Home in Yountville. "On Battlefield politics is put aside and our men and women stand together to complete the mission at hand. In war there are many obstacles to contend with, and that is expected, but when our warriors return home they expect that our country will "keep the promise" to provide the care they are entitled too. The Thompson-Sessions amendment H.R. 1960 sends clear message that today's veterans and active duty soldiers will not be left behind."
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, encouraging a constant flow of new and innovative treatments.
The legislation will now go to the Senate for approval.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California's 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.