Blunt Rochester Introduces Bill to Improve Private Care for Veterans

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), introduced legislation that would ensure veterans receive the highest quality care possible from private providers. The Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act will require that veterans receive culturally competent, evidence-based mental health treatment from private providers, as is already required of VA mental health providers.

 As the suicide rate of our nation’s veterans continues to worsen, more must be done to provide them with quality mental health care. The need for quality care is most acute with private providers in two key areas: cultural competency and evidence-based treatment.

“Suicide amongst our veterans is and has been a public health crisis in this country. The suicide rate is unconscionably high, and we know that the only way to reduce it is by providing our veterans with the best mental health care possible. After serving our country bravely, the least we can do for these women and men is provide them with clinically effective mental health treatment that respects the military experience,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “I heard from veterans across Delaware about the importance of access to high-quality mental health care, which is why I’m proud to introduce the Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act, which will require training to better allow private providers to understand veterans and their experiences. Providing quality health care to our veterans is upholding our end of the bargain, and the Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act will help us do just that.”

“The staggering suicide rate that continues to plague the Veteran community is much higher than the rates found in the general population.  This problem is indicative of the fact that we are not doing enough to recognize the warning signs of those who may be at risk and providing effective interventions and supports needed to prevent this tragic outcome.  It is imperative that both those within the VA and out in the community are properly trained on Veteran-specific mental health issues and that they all better understand treating those from a military culture. I’m glad to join forces in this bipartisan initiative to ensure our heroes get the help they need,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

“Veteran suicide is a public health crisis, and it’s important that everyone who cares for veterans understands the unique challenges they face,” said Rep. Levin. “I’m proud to join Reps. Blunt Rochester and Bilirakis in introducing this bipartisan legislation to help ensure non-VA mental health providers are adequately prepared to treat veterans as we work together to prevent veteran suicide.”

“The VA MISSION Act of 2018 required VA to train non-department health care providers to deliver the same quality of care, but more needs to be done for mental health. The VFW supports the Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act, requiring VA to mandate non-department mental health providers to meet VA standards of evidence-based  treatment through training and measured outcomes in an annual report,” said Tammy Barlet, MPH, Deputy Director of National Legislative Service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The VFW believes non-department mental health providers must maintain the same quality of care standards as their VA counterparts.

The Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act will make use of the latest research from VA by:

  • Requiring all private mental health providers to follow the same standards and requirements as VA mental health providers.

  • Require providers to take courses on military culture and on evaluation and management of suicide, PTSD, TBI, and military sexual trauma (MST).

  • Reporting back to Congress the progress made by private providers in completing these requirements.

The Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars,  the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Psychological Association, Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders, the Association of VA Social Workers, and the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs.

The full text of the bill can be found here. 



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