The Veterans Affairs Department will be able to use third-party practitioners to provide telemental health services to veterans with no co-payments required, thanks to language in a comprehensive veteran’s bill President Obama is expected to sign this week.
The bill will allow VA to use private practitioners to also provide remote traumatic brain injury assessments. The department has used telemental health systems in its hospitals and clinics to treat post-traumatic stress disorder since at least 2007 and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center established its Tele-TBI Clinic and Remote Assessment Center in 2008.
The 2012 Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act also calls for VA to offer training in telemedicine to medical residents at its hospital. It also requires the department to consult with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and universities affiliated with its hospitals to determine the feasibility of making telehealth a mandatory component of residency programs.
The main focus of the bill is to provide lifetime health care to veterans and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., for at least 30 days from 1957 to 1987 who drank chemical-laced water and have subsequently been diagnosed with a wide variety of cancers or suffered miscarriages.