Federal Appeals Court Reverses Ruling On VA Mental Health Care

The court dismissed a lawsuit brought by veterans' groups on the basis that courts do not have authority to order such changes in how the Department of Veterans Affairs system delivers care.

Reuters: US Court Reverses Itself On Veterans Healthcare Overhaul
A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must overhaul how it cares for veterans with combat-related mental health care illnesses. By a 10-1 decision, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said it could not conclude that the VA's treatment of veterans, which sometimes causes health care claims to remain unaddressed for several years, was unconstitutional (Stempel, 5/7).

San Francisco Chronicle: Court Dismisses Vets' Suit On Mental Health
Claims of systematic delays and neglect in mental health care for the nation's military veterans are beyond the power of courts to address, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Monday in ordering dismissal of a 5-year-old suit by veterans groups…. Declaring that "the VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough," a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 a year ago that vets groups could ask a federal judge to order changes in the system.  But at the Obama administration's request, the full appeals court granted a new hearing before a larger panel, which ruled Monday that courts lack authority to order system-wide changes in veterans' health care (Egelko, 5/8).

San Jose Mercury News: 9th Circuit Tosses Lawsuit Over VA Mental Health Care
In a major setback for suffering combat veterans, a federal appeals court Monday found that Congress, not the courts, is responsible for fixing the VA's troubled mental health care system, overturning a previous court that found the program riddled with "unchecked incompetence." In a 10-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit that sought to force the Veterans Affairs Department to overhaul the treatment program and reversed an earlier ruling that would have forced the government to speed up treatment requests and benefit claims (Mintz, 5/7).

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