Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Veterans Affairs -> Health Care


ItemVeterans Affairs
Health CareGrade
VA-3
The Promise: "Obama will expand "Vet Centers in rural areas so that veterans and their families can get the care they need where they live."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act signed into law on 10/22/09 included funds for investing in mobile clinics to reach veterans in rural areas.

Further, the FY2010 appropriation for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) included $250M to continue rural health initiatives and an additional $30M to increase the number of Community Based Outpatient Clinics in rural areas, benefitting approximately 41% of eligible veterans.

President Obama's FY2012 budget proposal included an additional $250M to improve access to care in rural and highly isolated areas by veterans and their families. His FY2013 proposal included continuation of the $250M historical funding level to "improve access and quality of care for enrolled veterans residing in rural areas."

This promise was fulfilled.
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VA-4
The Promise: "...requiring individual, face-to-face post-deployment mental health screenings."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:Face-to-face screenings, designed to help members of the armed forces deal better with stress, also make it easier for them to seek substance abuse treatment, obtain marriage/family counseling, and help prevent suicides.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2647) signed into law by President Obama on 10/28/09 was successfully amended to provide "person-to-person mental health assessment for each member of the Armed Forces who is deployed in connection with a contingency operation...At a time during the period beginning 90 days after the date of redeployment from the contingency operation and ending 180 days after the date of redeployment..."

On 12/19/14, President Obama signed into law the Carl Levin and Howard P. 'Buck' McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 3979). This Department of Defense (DoD) bill authorized $30.7B for the defense health program and codified the requirement for annual one-on-one, face-to-face mental health checkups for active duty and Selected Reserve troops, as well as in-person mental health screenings every 180 days during deployment. Under this legislation, the DoD must also provide periodic in-person mental health assessments reports to Congress.

This promise was fulfilled.
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VA-5
The Promise: "...will establish standards of care for TBI treatment, require pre- and post-deployment screenings and improve case management so that servicemembers get the best possible care."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:According to Pentagon statistics as reported in Congressional Research Service Report RS22452 of 08/07/15, more than 325K troops had been diagnosed with some form of Traumatic Brain Injury during the period CY2000 to mid-CY2015.

On 03/08/10, the VA issued Directive 2010-012 that set the standards for the screening and evaluation of possible TBI in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans. This was an initial effort to satisfy the post-deployment screening aspects of this promise.

The Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) has the mission to "develop state of the science clinical standards to maximize recovery and functioning and to provide guidance and support in the implementation of clinical tools for the benefit of all those who sustain traumatic brain injuries in the service of our country." The DCoE operates a 24/7 Outreach Center that provides a source of information to everyone (not only wounded warriors) on psychological health and TBI issues and resources and partners with the VA and a national network of military and civilian agencies, community leaders, advocacy groups, clinical experts, and academic institutions to establish best practices and quality standards for the treatment of TBI. The DCoE's work is carried out across these major areas: clinical care; education and training; prevention; research and patient, family and community outreach.

The Veterans Health Administration has a Polytrauma System of Care to treat and care for Veterans with TBI alone or in combination with other injuries and health conditions.

In its CY2013 report entitled "Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Preliminary Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families", the Committee on the Assessment of the Readjustment Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine continues to stress that its extensive research into TBI treatment is stymied by the apparent non-availability of DoD/VA standards. Through end-CY2016, independent verification of the existence of standards was inhibited by the non-accessibility to DVBIC and DCoE websites by the general public.

While definitive standards for TBI treatment are still unavailable for public consumption, the availability of pre- and post-deployment screenings, coupled with improved case management practices indicates that tangible progress had been made on the establishment of standards by end-CY2016.

This promise was fulfilled.
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VA-6
The Promise: "As the nation's largest integrated health system, the Veterans Health Administration has already been a national leader in reform, particularly with electronic health records and prevention initiatives...will continue this trend to make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. This includes efforts to improve electronic records interoperability, expand effectiveness research, promote wellness programs, and instill more accountability for performance and quality improvement initiatives."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:On 04/09/09, President Obama announced the creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) to improve care and services to transitioning veterans by facilitating the flow of medical records between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Once fully developed, VLER will include both administrative and medical information from the day a new recruit enters military service, throughout that servicemember's career, and after that servicemember retires or separates from active or reserve duty.

A proof of concept VLER prototype and production pilot was executed in the San Diego area during CY2009. On 01/30/10, the DoD and VA joined the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). They announced on 03/08/10 that they had progressed to testing capabilities to complete data integration implementation, and were building adaptors to communicate through the NHIN with each other and with private providers.

As of end-CY2016, even private clinics and health facilities, using the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE), had been able to exchange electronic patient records with the VA through the VLER Program, enabling access to patient records of active and retired military personnel who receive care at VA health care facilities.

This promise was fulfilled.
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VA-7
The Promise: "...increasing the VA budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FY2010 appropriation included an increase of $300M over the FY2009 appropriation of $4.3B for "programs addressing the wounded, ill and injured, traumatic brain injury, and psychological health. This includes includes "$1 million to provide education debt relief as a hiring incentive for mental health professionals." The DoD budget for FY2010 included $800M for improving the hiring and retention of psychiatrists and mental health professionals.

For FY2011, the President's budget proposal for the Department of Defense included $669M "to provide care for traumatic brain injury and psychological health" and $250M "for continued support of mental health and traumatic brain injury research". Also in the VA FY2011 budget proposal, the President proposed to invest $5.2B in "specialized care" for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other mental health conditions. This number went up to $5.8B in FY2012 and $6.2B in FY2013.

The VA's budget steadily increased each year of President Obama's two terms in office, with total funding during his second term as follows: FY2014 - $147.9B, FY2015 - $158.6B, FY2016 - $162.6B, FY2017 - $176.9B. These funding increases permitted the increased hiring of mental health professionals.

This promise was fulfilled.
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VA-8
The Promise: "There will be a longterm need for strengthened specialty care within the VA, including additional polytrauma centers as well as centers of excellence for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), PTSD, vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, women's health and other specialized rehabilitative care...he will expand the number of these centers of excellence and invest in specialty care."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:When President Obama assumed his office, the VA administered four (4) Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (PRC), one each in Richmond, VA; Tampa, FL; Minneapolis, MN; and Palo Alto, CA, supplemented by 21 Polytrauma Network Sites (PNS). These were further supplemented by 80 Polytrauma Support Clinic Teams (PSCT) at the nation's VA hospitals.

A fifth PRC was dedicated on 10/25/11 in San Antonio, TX.

By the end of President Obama's second term in office, the Polytrauma System of Care (PSC) continued to provide a continuum of integrated care through 5 Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Programs (PTRP) at the five PRCs (up from four), 23 PNS (up from 21), 86 PSCT (up from 80), and 39 Polytrauma Points of Contact (POC), located at VA medical centers across the country.

This promise was fulfilled.
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