Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2014by Representative Ann Kirkpatrick
Posted on 2014-09-16
KIRKPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
Traumatic brain injury has become a signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These conflicts have caused hundreds of thousands of servicemembers to sustain TBIs.
The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act extended the pilot program on assisted living services for veterans with TBI until October 2017. This pilot has helped nearly 200 veterans with moderate to severe brain injuries, and this program fills a treatment need which residential VA facilities currently cannot handle.
H.R. 4276 will improve the reporting requirements for the TBI assisted living pilot program so that we can better gauge its success and expand the definition of community-based residential rehabilitative services so that veterans with TBI have other residential and home- based assisted living options.
Congress has provided significant resources for this program, currently approaching $30 million per year. Reports show that veterans believe this is a successful and popular program, but we in Congress must provide vital oversight so that innovative pilot programs meet our veterans' needs. This is why we need better data on the cost and benefits of this program to veterans.
This bill will require the VA to submit detailed quarterly reports on this pilot program. I believe that these increased reporting requirements will ensure that the VA is providing the best rehabilitative services for our veterans with TBI.
Earlier this year, I held a field hearing on access to care for veterans with TBI at the VA medical center in Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson VA's polytrauma care unit is one of several VA centers across the country that is at the very forefront of providing care and rehabilitative services for veterans with TBI.
I believe the VA's cutting-edge treatments and its coordinated care for veterans with TBI serve as a model for innovative care that could be expanded to other medical specialties so that the VA may better address the unique health care needs of our veterans.
In the coming months, we must look to fundamentally reform the VA in how it provides benefits and services to veterans. We must look to some of the VA health care delivery programs that show promise, such as the assisted living pilot program, to implement best practices throughout the VA system that will give our veterans the timely, world-class health care they deserve. I look forward to engaging my colleagues and veterans in this goal.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4276, and I reserve the balance of my time.