ALERT: S.785 Signed into Law
Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill S.785, signed into Law
Secretary Wilkie Applauds President Trump for Signing Suicide Prevention Bill 17OCT2020, 1934h
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie released the following statement after President Trump signed into law the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act this weekend.
“This legislation moves America closer to a goal that all citizens can support: increasing the local resources available to our men and women who answered the call to defend this Nation. This law will expand mental health care services at VA facilities and at the same time provide grants to make it easier for Veterans to access non-VA resources in their communities.
“Care in the community is a critical component of our effort to end Veteran suicide. About 60 percent of the Veterans who die by suicide aren’t getting care from VA, so it’s vital we do all we can to offer intervention and care to Veterans where they live. This bill takes a strong and meaningful step in that direction.”
Senators Hoeven and Cramer (R-ND), along with Congressmen Armstrong (R-ND), Biggs (R-AZ), Buck (R-CO), and Murphy (R-NC) and ultimately the vast majority of colleagues in the House and Senate, were instrumental in securing passage.
Senator Hoeven pointed to Section 702, a provision to Expand the VA’s research into HBOT. This requires the VA to study and report on the effectiveness of this alternative treatment option in partnership with private organizations, a provision offered by Senator Cramer.
Earlier, the North Dakota delegation announced that the VA agreed to expand and extend the Fargo VA’s participation in its Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) clinical demonstration program and increase the number of veterans who can be referred for this alternative treatment option for post-traumatic stress (PTS). The program is being extended through September 30, 2021, expanded to allow veterans to be treated at Jamestown Regional Medical Center and increasing to allow more veterans to be served.
Fargo was selected as the fifth location for the VA’s HBOT demonstration program last year. The HBOT program provides veterans with PTS in North Dakota and western Minnesota, who have yet to experience positive outcomes from other treatments, access to HBOT through a partnership between the Fargo VA and Healing with Hyperbarics, a Fargo-based facility, and now with Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
“I worked to include North Dakota in this pilot program to give veterans who have yet to experience positive outcomes with access to this additional treatment option for PTS. Providing our veterans with this option is part of our efforts to ensure our men and women in uniform receive the high quality care they deserve.”
To date, all veterans who have been referred to the Pilot and completed the requisite HBOT treatment have shown significant medical improvement.
S.785 – A BILL To improve mental health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
SEC. 702. PARTNERSHIPS WITH NON-FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ENTITIES TO PROVIDE HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY TO VETERANS AND STUDES ON THE USE OF SUCH THERAPY FOR TREATMENT OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY.
(a) PARTNERSHIPS TO PROVIDE HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY TO VETERANS.
(1) USE OF PARTNERSHIPS. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Center for Compassionate Innovation within the Office of Community Engagement of the Department of Veterans Affairs, may enter into partnerships with non-Federal Government entities to provide hyperbaric oxygen treatment to veterans to research the effectiveness of such therapy.
(2) TYPES OF PARTNERSHIPS. Partnerships entered into under paragraph (1) may include the following:
(A) Partnerships to conduct research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
(B) Partnerships to review research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy provided to nonveterans.
(C) Partnerships to create industry working groups to determine standards for research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
(D) Partnerships to provide to veterans hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the purposes of conducting research on the effectiveness of such therapy.
(3) LIMITATION ON FEDERAL FUNDING. Federal Government funding may be used to coordinate and administer the partnerships under this subsection but may not be used to carry out activities conducted under such partnerships.
(b) REVIEW OF EFFECTIVENESS OF HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY. Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Center for Compassionate Innovation, shall begin using an objective and quantifiable method to review the effectiveness and applicability of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, such as through the use of a device approved or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration that assesses traumatic brain injury by tracking eye movement.
c) SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF USE OF HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY TO TREAT CERTAIN CONDITIONS.
(1) IN GENERAL. Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Center for Compassionate Innovation, shall commence the conduct of a systematic review of published research literature on off label use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among veterans and nonveterans.
(2) ELEMENTS. The review conducted under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) An assessment of the current parameters for research on the use by the Department of Veterans Affairs of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, including
(i) tests and questionnaires used to determine the efficacy of such therapy; and
(ii) metrics for determining the success of such therapy.
(B) A comparative analysis of tests and questionnaires used to study post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in other research conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, other Federal agencies, and entities outside the Federal Government.
(3) COMPLETION OF REVIEW. The review conducted under paragraph (1) shall be completed not later than 180 days after the date of the commencement of the review.
(4) REPORT. Not later than 90 days after the completion of the review conducted under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans™ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans™ Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the results of the review.
(d) FOLLOW-UP STUDY. IN GENERAL. Not later than 120 days after the completion of the review conducted under subsection (c), the Secretary, in consultation with the Center for Compassionate Innovation, shall commence the conduct of a study on all individuals receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy through the current pilot program of the Department for the provision of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to veterans to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
(2) ELEMENTS. The study conducted under paragraph (1) shall include the review and publication of any data and conclusions resulting from research conducted by an authorized provider of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veterans through the pilot program described in such paragraph.
(3) COMPLETION OF STUDY. The study conducted under paragraph (1) shall be completed not later than three years after the date of the commencement of the study.
(4) REPORT.â€” 23 (A) IN GENERAL. Not later than 90 days 24 after completing the study conducted under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans™ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans™ Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the results of the study.
(B) ELEMENTS. The report required under subparagraph (A) shall include the recommendation of the Secretary with respect to whether or not hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be made available to all veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.
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