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Rep. Tim Murphy Introduces Veterans Mental Health Bill in the House

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Rep. Tim Murphy Introduces Veterans Mental Health Bill in the House

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Last week, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced legislation that allows veterans using VA care to continue to receive the same lifesaving mental health medication they accessed while on active-duty. The Enhancing Veterans Access to Treatment (EVAT) Act (H.R. 2123) mandates that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have matching mental health drug plans for veterans to protect veterans from being removed from successful treatment.

According the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day and less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment.  This legislation expands veterans’ access to medication, eliminates barriers to treatment for veterans and ensures continuity of care through the Veterans Affairs health system. Currently, discrepancies in the two agencies’ drug plans cause problems for patients who may be taken off certain mental health medication when switching agencies. Veterans may be subject to fail first treatment or be forced to go through an appeals process in order to remain on their current medication.

“For veterans dealing with invisible injuries, the Veterans Administration drug formulary acts as a road block for those who are on the path to recovery. The EVAT Act eliminates this obstacle by allowing seamless continuity of medication and leaves any decisions to change medication up to the doctor and veteran,” said Dr. Murphy in a statement. “The VA should be making it easier for veterans facing mental health issues, not harder. The EVAT Act guarantees veterans they will get the lifesaving medicine they desperately need once entering the VA health system.”

Veterans that have identified a treatment plan that works should not be forced to change medications, or engage in an appeals process when they transition from active duty to retirement. This same continuity of care should be afforded to all persons living with mental illness no matter their payer.

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