KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

IOM Report: Military Needs To Do More To Treat, Prevent Drug And Alcohol Abuse

The Institute of Medicine found that the military's programs don't keep up with standard medical practices  used in civilian life and that health care providers aren't adequately trained at all levels.

NewsHour: Military Not Doing Enough To Curb Alcohol, Drug Abuse, IOM Concludes
In a report requested by the Department of Defense and released on Monday, IOM said treatment and prevention programs are "inconsistent" in their use of evidence-based medicine and that health care providers aren't adequately trained at all levels, which contributes to "lower quality care." Evidence-based medicine is a term used to describe the treatment of patients with therapies that have been proven to be effective. The report said that too often, outdated drugs are prescribed to patients instead of newer drugs "that are now standard practice" in civilian life. It criticized TRICARE, the military's health care program for soldiers and their dependents, for not covering some newer medications unless the patient is in "specialized rehabilitation facilities" (Bowser, 9/17).

USA Today: Study: Military Needs To Better Address Substance Abuse By Troops
The Pentagon must acknowledge a "public health crisis" in the growing abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs by troops and show stronger leadership in dealing with it, according to a report by a blue ribbon committee released Monday (Zoroya, 9/17).

Medpage Today: IOM: Military Needs Better Care For Addicts
The U.S. Defense Department needs more providers trained in treating substance abuse in the armed forces, according to an Institute of Medicine report. The prevalence of comorbid behavioral conditions "necessitates access to providers with advanced levels of training rather than certified counselors or peer support by individuals in recovery," the report, released Monday, read (Pittman, 9/17).

The Baltimore Sun: Military Not Doing Enough To Help Soldiers With Substance Abuse, Study Finds
Substance abuse among America's soldiers is increasing and the Department of Defense isn't doing enough to address the problem, according to a new report. The report released today by the Institute of Medicine found that the military health system TRICARE doesn't cover the best treatments for alcohol and drug abuse. The system also does not permit long-term use of certain medications to treat addiction and requires treatment in a specialized rehab center (Walker, 9/17).

Meanwhile, one New York member of Congress is raising concerns about an aspect of VA care.

CQ HealthBeat: Buerkle Expresses 'Grave' Concern Over VA Contracting For Outside Care
The House lawmaker whose subcommittee oversees Veterans Affairs health care is expressing deep skepticism that department officials have a handle on managing the care received by those who lack access to VA facilities. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., says she has "grave concerns" about the VA "fee basis care" system, which is designed to make sure civilian doctors step in and provide care when Veterans Affairs facilities are unable to meet the demand (Reichard, 9/17).

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