Veterans transitioning back to civilian life can look forward to expanded mental health services, more choices for accessing care under some circumstances and other expanded assistance and support transitioning to civilian life under the Presidential Executive Order on Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life President Donald J. Trump signed this morning (January 9, 2018) to ensure veterans have the resources they need as they transition back to civilian life..
The Executive Order declares, “t is the policy of the United States to support the health and well-being of uniformed service members and veterans. After serving our Nation, veterans deserve long, fulfilling civilian lives. Accordingly, our Government must improve mental healthcare and access to suicide prevention resources available to veterans, particularly during the critical 1-year period following the transition from uniformed service to civilian life,
The Executive Order acknowledges the current system fails adequately to care for veterans transitioning to civilian life. It states, “Unfortunately, in some cases within the first year following transition, some veterans can have difficulties reintegrating into civilian life after their military experiences and some tragically take their own lives. Veterans, in their first year of separation from uniformed service, experience suicide rates approximately two times higher than the overall veteran suicide rate.” To help prevent these tragedies, the Executive Order states all veterans should have seamless access to high-quality mental healthcare and suicide prevention resources as they transition, with an emphasis on the 1-year period following separation.”
In announcing the Executive Order, President Trump said caring for veterans is a “top priority.”
“We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve,” he said.
To implement the necessary improvements to improve veterans care, the Executive Order direct the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to collaborate to address the complex challenges faced by our transitioning uniformed service members and veterans to accomplish the following:
Within 60 days, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security must submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a Joint Action Plan that describes concrete actions to provide, to the extent consistent with law, seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year following discharge, separation, or retirement.
Within 180 days, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a status report on the implementation of the Joint Action Plan and how the proposed reforms have been effective in improving mental health treatment for all transitioning uniformed service members and veterans that addresses progress on certain specific reforms and any additional reforms that could help further address the problems that obstruct veterans’ access to resources and continuous mental healthcare treatment, including any suggestions for legislative and regulatory reforms; and
A timeline describing next steps and the results anticipated from continued and additional reforms.
The actual Executive Order tells little about how the Trump Administration intends to implement these directives. The White House press release about the Executive Order states President Trump believes that our veterans deserve the best healthcare in the world, and is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand and modernize their care including through four already announced initiatives to expand healthcare access for our veterans through technological innovation:
An expansion of the VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” healthcare, which allows VA providers to use tele-health technology to remotely treat veterans regardless of geographic location.
A greater adoption of VA Video Connect, an application for mobile phones and computers, which directly connects veterans and healthcare providers from anywhere in the country.
At over 100 VA sites across the nation, a rollout of the new Online Scheduling Tool, which enables veterans to schedule appointments from their mobile devices or computers.
A launch of the VA’s “Access and Quality Tool,” which allows veterans to view online both wait times at VA locations and important quality-of-care data.
The press release also states President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).
The VCP gives eligible veterans their choice of private care if they live more than 40 miles from the closest eligible VA facility, experience wait times over 30 days from the clinically indicated date, or face an excessive burden in accessing VA care.
On addition, the press release states the Department of Veterans Affairs will adopt the same Electronic Health Record (EHR) as the Department of Defense (DOD) so all patient data will reside in one common system, enabling the immediate availability of service member’s medical records and seamless care between the departments.
Concerning veterans mental health, President Trump notes that Secretary Shulkin already expanded access to urgent mental healthcare to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges.
As in the past, the effect of these promises remains to be seen. The announced changes only provide a portion of the reforms needed and past reform programs have promised much but have failed to resolve access issues and failed to address notorious neglect and abuse recurrently uncovered in many veterans hospitals and other care facilities across the nation. Veterans, their families and treating physicians and others concerned with veterans health issues should monitor proposed changes and provide input as needed to ensure these reforms are properly designed and implemented as well as recommend other improvements.
About The Author
Repeatedly recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Council, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation and board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney, management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for health and managed care, employee benefits, insurance and financial services, data and technology and other management work, public policy leadership and advocacy, coaching, teachings, and publications. For her profession practice and pro bono work with PROJECT COPE and others she is recognized for her work, experience, leadership and publications on veterans and other health and workforce policy and law and regulation for more than 30 years.
Ms. Stamer also has an extensive contributes her leadership and insights with other professionals, industry leaders and lawmakers. Her insights on health care, insurance, benefits and other risk management and compliance concerns often appear in medical privacy related publications of a broad range of health care, health plan and other industry publications Among others, she has conducted privacy training for the Association of State & Territorial Health Plans (ASTHO), the Los Angeles Health Department, SHRM, HIMMS, the American Bar Association, the Health Care Compliance Association, a multitude of health plan, insurance and financial services, education, employer employee benefit and other clients, trade and professional associations and others. You can get more information about her HIPAA and other experience here. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, see here, e-mail her here or telephone Ms. Stamer at (214) 452-8297.
About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™
Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources here including:
Review Your Provider Performance Data
1/18 Comment Deadline on Office Of Child Care Guidance That Allows Background Check Requirement Delays
Bill Allowing FDA Emergency Use Authorizations To Protect Military From Biological Warfare Threats Sent to President
OIG Tells Texas Stop Paying Medicaid MCOs For Dead Patients
1/19 Deadline To Comment On Proposed FDA Premarket Notice Exemption For Over-The-Counter Dental Repair Kits
Michigan Doctor Pleads Guilty To Billing Medicare For Illegally Prescribed Drugs
Anesthesiology Practice Nailed For Improperly Billing For Moderate Sedation
Florida Doctor Sentenced For Multi-Million Dollar Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Health Care Fraud, Money Laundering & Forced Prostitution Scheme
CMS Announces New Medicare Provider Ombudsman
Comment By 1/8 on Guidance for Industry on Expedited Programs for Serious Conditions– Drugs and Biologics
CMS Publishes 2018 Updates To Home Health Prospective Payment Rates & Rules
CMS Publishes 2018 Physician Fee Schedule Rule
Check Your Medicare/Medicaid Compliance Against Against Quarterly Guidance Changes List
CDC Proposed Changes To NIOSH Occupational Health Biological Monitoring Methods for Chemical Exposures
HHS Picks Hargan As Acting HHS Secretary
OCR Gives Health Care Providers, Other Covered Entities Post-Las Vegas Shooting HIPAA Medical Privacy Guidance On Disclosures To Family, Media & Others For Notification & Other Purposes
Novo Nordisk Pays $58M+ For Not Giving FDA-Required Warnings ABout Victoza Cancer Risks
Christus Pays $12.24M Settlement Resolves False Claims Act Charges From “Donations” To New Mexico
Oklahoma Nursing Home Settles HHS HIV Discrimination Charges
HHS Issues Hurricane Irma Relief For Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands & Florida
HHS Medical Clinic to Provide Healthcare to Hurricane Harvey Victims at Houston Convention Center Starting Wednesday
CMS Proposes Cutbacks To Medicare Bundled Payment Program
CMS Releases 2017 Provider Payment Program Hardship Exception Application
RAISE Act Immigration Visa, Visa Holder Public Benefit Limits Create Potential Health Industry Concerns
SCOTUS Bars State Law Restrictions On Health, Other Arbitration Agreement Enforceability
Health Care, Health Plan & Other Health IT Systems Warned of E-Mail Cyber Attack
$2.4M HIPAA Settlement Warns Providers About Media Disclosures Of PHI
CardioNet $2.5M HIPAA Resolution Agreement Schools HIPAA Entities To Clean Up Their Acts
Medical Clinic HIPAA Resolution Agreement Shows Need For Current Business Associate Agreements
If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating your profile here.
NOTICE: These statements and materials are for general informational and purposes only. They do not establish an attorney-client relationship, are not legal advice or an offer or commitment to provide legal advice, and do not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are urged to engage competent legal counsel for consultation and representation in light of the specific facts and circumstances presented in their unique circumstance at any particular time. No comment or statement in this publication is to be construed as legal advice or an admission. The author reserves the right to qualify or retract any of these statements at any time. Likewise, the content is not tailored to any particular situation and does not necessarily address all relevant issues. Because the law is rapidly evolving and rapidly evolving rules makes it highly likely that subsequent developments could impact the currency and completeness of this discussion. The presenter and the program sponsor disclaim, and have no responsibility to provide any update or otherwise notify any participant of any such change, limitation, or other condition that might affect the suitability of reliance upon these materials or information otherwise conveyed in connection with this program. Readers may not rely upon, are solely responsible for, and assume the risk and all liabilities resulting from their use of this publication.
Circular 230 Compliance. The following disclaimer is included to ensure that we comply with U.S. Treasury Department Regulations. Any statements contained herein are not intended or written by the writer to be used, and nothing contained herein can be used by you or any other person, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under federal tax law, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related transaction or matter addressed herein.
©2018 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ For information about republication, please contact the author directly. All other rights