House passes bill to fund treatment for combat vets
July 25, 2013 • Register staff
The Pathway Home and other centers treating military service members with combat-related brain injuries could become eligible for new federal funding under a congressional bill approved by the House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Thompson announced Thursday.
HR 2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, includes $10 million for a five-year pilot program to support health care centers outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs that treat combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder.
Thompson, D-St. Helena, joined Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, to introduce legislation creating the program, which the House passed in June as part of its defense authorization act for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The bill is headed to the Senate for approval. A similar funding bill introduced last year by Thompson passed the House but did not make into the Senate’s version of the defense budget.
“This funding will make sure that our troops get the very best care America has to offer,” Thompson said in a statement. “We know that oftentimes the best treatments for (traumatic brain injuries) and (post-traumatic stress) aren’t available at military medical facilities, but rather at places like the Pathway Home in Yountville. By putting this funding in place, we will make sure that when our heroes return from combat they get the best care, no matter where it’s provided.”
Residential treatments such as The Pathway Home, as well as individual doctors, can qualify for payment from the pilot program through a “pay-for-performance” plan requiring applicants to prove noticeable improvement in their patients. The program also includes annual reports to Congress in order to help publicize new treatments for brain-injured veterans to other hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
Non-VA facilities applying for funds must use treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and must follow FDA rules governing experimental drugs and devices, according to Austin Vevurka, Thompson’s spokesman. Treatments also must be approved by a review board and the secretary of defense, and comply with regulations set by the Department of Health and Human Services, he said Thursday.
In addition to funding brain injury treatment centers, HR 2397 also includes a requirement, supported by Thompson, that all American flags purchased by the Defense Department be entirely U.S.-manufactured, from materials and supplies entirely grown, produced or made in the U.S.
Based on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California, The Pathway Home treats inpatient veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for battlefield brain injuries and PTSD.