KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Veterans’ Access To Mental Health Services Remains A Concern

Access questions and concerns are deepening as more men and women end their tours of duty and need therapy upon returning to the U.S. In other news, NPR reports on the debate surrounding the costs of military retiree benefits.

CQ HealthBeat: As Veterans' Mental Health System Expands, Access Remains A Concern
The crunch comes even though Congress has increased veterans' mental health funding and boosted clinical staff. But a growing number of men and women ending their tours in need of therapy has deepened the problem. The number of veterans using mental health services has jumped 34 percent to 1.2 million in fiscal 2010 from 897,129 in fiscal 2006. At a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Nov. 30, advocates said VHA officials have been reluctant to work with volunteer, private-sector therapists (Norman, 12/2).

NPR: Cutting Retiree Benefits A Sore Subject For Military
Bean counters at the Pentagon are working long hours to figure out how to cut close to a trillion dollars from the Department of Defense budget over the next 10 years. … Part of the defense budget usually protected from budget cuts is personnel costs: mainly health care and retirement benefits. While Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said everything's on the table, cutting benefits for troops is not an easy sell (12/4).

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