PTSD Treatment Claims Process Eased, Some Remain Skeptical

NPR: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new rule Monday that aims to make it easier for troops who return from battle to get the PTSD support they need. "Veterans will no longer have to prove that a certain attack, bomb explosion or event in a combat zone triggered post-traumatic stress. It's a change that most agree has been a long time coming. 'The new regulation will potentially benefit all veterans, regardless of their period of service, and it is not limited to veterans with direct combat experience,' VA Undersecretary for Benefits Michael Walcoff said Monday during a news conference" (Martin, 7/12).

The New York Times: Some groups worry, however, that the rule "does not go far enough in lowering obstacles to veterans seeking health care or disability compensation for PTSD. At issue is a provision saying that a final determination on whether a veteran's disorder is tied to service — instead of, say, a car crash — can be made only by a physician or psychologist working for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Advocates have urged the department to allow private clinicians to make those determinations as well." Officials say the consistency of examinations is the intended target of that provision. "But veterans groups say private clinicians often do more thorough examinations than federal ones. In many of those cases, the private clinicians are already treating the veterans and are thus familiar with their problems. In such cases, the advocates say, the government should accept the word of the private clinician that the disorder is related to service, making the veteran eligible for benefits. Those benefits include free care in the veterans health system and monthly disability checks that can range up to about $2,700, depending on the severity of the disability" (Dao, 7/12).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.