Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2017
On November 9, 2017, Representative Charlie Crist (FL) and Representative Jeff Denham (CA) introduced H.R. 4345, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2017. The bill would create coordination between the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Attorney General to provide grants and technical assistance to the State circuit court systems that have adopted Veterans Treatment Court Programs or have filed a notice of intent to establish a Veterans Treatment Court Program with the Secretary.
There are currently over 200 Veterans Treatment Courts in the United States. These courts seek to treat veterans suffering from a substance abuse and/or mental health disorder, while helping ensure public safety. They combine rigorous treatment and personal accountability, with the goal of breaking the cycle of drug use and criminal behavior. Veterans Treatment Courts require regular court appearances, as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions, and frequent and random testing for drug and alcohol use. Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment, given their past experiences in the Armed Forces.
Veterans Treatment Courts keep veterans out of jail and prison and connect them with the benefits and treatment they have earned, all while saving tax dollars for our country. Nationwide, these courts have produced a statistically significant reduction of recidivism rates in veterans.
H.R. 4345 would create a single office in the Department of Justice to coordinate the provision of grants, training, and technical assistance to help State, local, and Tribal governments develop and maintain Veterans Treatment Courts.
Legislation to Eliminate Copayment Requirements for Essential Preventive Medications and Medical Services for Veterans Using VA Health Care
Representative Lee Zeldin (NY) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL) introduced the Veterans Preventive Health Coverage Fairness Act (H.R. 1100 and S. 1161), legislation that would eliminate requirements for veterans to make copayments for medical care and medications related to preventive health services delivered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This legislation would place VA in parity with the Department of Defense, as well as meeting the Affordable Care Act's standard relative to copayments for preventive health services for private sector health plans.
For veterans required to make copayments, VA charges $15 for basic care and $50 for specialty care visits and between $5-$11 for medication. With the passage of this legislation, veterans would continue to benefit from VA preventive health care and wellness services, but without the cost sharing. The VA health care system has been a leader in quality care and promoting the benefits of preventative services for veterans-many who are life-long patients. With its medically complex patient population, coordinating a comprehensive array of preventive and wellness services has helped VA contain costs and improve health outcomes for veterans. However, VA has been out of step in requiring copayments for health maintenance and preventive care services.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Health Resources and Services Administration have made suggestions for preventative services including vaccines and women's preventive health care - such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services that show significant benefit in disease prevention. These services are now routinely provided free of charge in private sector care plans.
Veterans, through their patriotism, devotion, and sacrifices, have already paid the price for their health care, and as a grateful nation, our government should fully honor its moral obligation to care for veterans and generously provide them benefits and health care entirely without charge.
Please contact your elected officials and ask that they cosponsor and pass this important legislation-H.R. 1100 or S. 1161