Military Health Care: Shallow Candidate Pool Could Hamper Mental Health Efforts

The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to hire 1,600 mental health professionals, but some say a shallow pool of candidates could hamper efforts, while Congress continues to resist making military health care beneficiaries pay more for their care.

Kaiser Health News: VA Drive To Hire 1,600 Mental Health Professionals Hits Community Clinics' Supply
The Department of Veterans Affairs, trying to cope with a surge in psychological needs of veterans, has vowed to hire 1,600 additional mental health care professionals by the end of June, but some experts say the pool of qualified candidates is too small and the federal effort could jeopardize already-understaffed community health organizations (Gugliotta, 4/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Pentagon Presses For Higher Fees For Military Health Care Beneficiaries, Congress Resists
The loud, insistent calls in Washington to rein in the rising costs of Social Security and Medicare ignore a major and expensive entitlement program -- the military's health care system. Despite dire warnings from three defense secretaries about the uncontrollable cost, Congress has repeatedly rebuffed Pentagon efforts to establish higher out-of-pocket fees and enrollment costs for military family and retiree health care as an initial step in addressing a harsh fiscal reality. The cost of military health care has almost tripled since 2001, from $19 billion to $53 billion in 2012, and stands at 10 percent of the entire defense budget (4/8).

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