Edwards To Announce Vets’ Mental Health Care Proposal
Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Monday during a speech at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire plans to announce a proposal to address the high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in combat soldiers who return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other issues related to health care for veterans, the AP/Wichita Eagle reports. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of veterans who experienced PTSD increased by 70% -- or by 20,000 cases -- during the last fiscal year. The proposal would allow veterans to seek counseling for PTSD at health care facilities outside the VA system.
In addition, the proposal would increase the number of PTSD counselors employed by VA and ask family members to help identify cases. The proposal also would increase the time between deployments for soldiers who return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Defense Department study conducted earlier this year found that insufficient time between deployments can lead to higher rates of PTSD or increased mental stress.
The proposal also would provide all veterans with a comprehensive medical examination as part of a "Homefront Redeployment Plan."
Edwards said that he would finance the proposal, which would cost about $400 million, through the elimination of certain tax breaks loopholes and increased efficiency in tax collection practices. "I strongly believe we must restore the sacred contract we have with our veterans and their families and that we must begin by reforming our system for treating PTSD," Edwards said in a copy of the speech (Elliot, AP/Wichita Eagle, 11/12). In related news, Caucus4Priorities, which supports a reduction in military spending and increased spending for health care and other social programs, on Friday endorsed Edwards and promised to help him campaign in Iowa (Leys, Des Moines Register, 11/10).
Americans for Health Care, a group organized by the Service Employees International Union, will hold mock caucuses in several states to promote health care as an issue in national and local elections, the Nevada Appeal reports. In addition, the group will provide voters with an analysis of the health care proposals offered by presidential candidates.
The group supports proposals that would ensure access to affordable, quality health care for all U.S. residents; focus on preventive care; and reduce costs (Dornan, Nevada Appeal, 11/8).
The Los Angeles Times on Sunday examined how, although presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) "presents herself as the candidate best able to give the nation better health care at lower prices" because of the "searing experience she gained in trying to overhaul the health care system during her husband's presidency," a "big part of that history is being concealed."
According to the Times, hundreds of pages of "memos and correspondence involving the health care plan of the early 1990s have been withheld, leaving a gap in a historic period when Clinton undertook one of the most ambitious domestic policy forays ever attempted" (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 11/11).
CNN's "Open House" on Saturday reported on the significance of health care as an issue for voters in the presidential election. The segment includes comments from Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst, and Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (Fortin, "Open House," CNN, 11/10). Video of the segment is available online. A transcript of the complete program also is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.