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What We're Reading: VA Reforms; Physical Activity Guidelines; Outpatient Mental Health

AJMC Staff
A law overhauling how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows patients to seek outside care is falling behind in implementation; new government guidelines about physical activity say adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 22 minutes a day; more judges around the country are mandating outpatient psychiatric interventions, including therapy and medication, instead of hospitalizations.

Law Overhauling VA Falling Behind in Implementation

A law overhauling how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows patients to seek outside care is falling behind in implementation, The Hill reported. The VA Mission Act, the replacement to the VA Choice Act, was signed in June and allows for a yearlong implementation period. President Donald Trump has been boasting of the law's reforms, which makes it easier for veterans to access private or community healthcare programs. Veterans groups are watching the process intently, and the VA is under pressure to implement the new law in time.

 

United States Tells Americans to Get More Physical Exercise

New government guidelines about physical activity say adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 22 minutes a day, NPR reported. It is the first update to the recommendations in 10 years. Compared with 1960, US workers burn about 140 fewer calories a day and only 20% of Americans meet the physical activity recommendations. The lack of activity is linked to about $117 billion in annual healthcare costs.

 

More Judges Turn to Outpatient Mental Health Programs for Court-Ordered Interventions

More judges around the country are mandating outpatient psychiatric interventions, including therapy and medication, instead of hospitalizations, Kaiser Health News reported. Proponents say outpatient care allows the comprehensive treatment that people with severe mental illnesses might not recognize they need, but other health experts question their effectiveness. The American Psychiatric Association endorsed intensive outpatient programs in 2015, saying assisted outpatient treatment has generally shown positive outcomes under certain circumstances.

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