KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

VA Tries To Keep Up With Surge Of Need

The Department of Veterans Affairs is experiencing a surge of treatment requests and disability claims as soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan, overwhelming VA clinics. The Christian Science Monitor reports "the VA is experiencing an unprecedented demand for its services. Among the roughly 2 million people who have deployed, there are some 300,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and thousands more of traumatic brain injury, according to a RAND report last year. And in the past decade, the number of disability claims that the VA processes has skyrocketed. Even with a heavy infusion of funding – a 50 percent increase since 2006 – the VA has been hard-pressed to meet veterans' needs. President Obama has outlined yet more funding, but the question remains: Will a new generation of vets get the resources and help it is likely to need from the VA for years to come?" (Lubold, 8/30).

Meanwhile, The Seattle Times reports on how the VA is receiving increased attention for a booklet it produced on end-of-life care: "While Republicans are calling a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health-planning booklet a "death book" that encourages veterans to kill themselves or forgo care, ethicists and legal and medical experts say it's a reasonable attempt to help veterans plan for the end of their lives" (Adams, 9/3).

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