What We're Reading: GAO Wants to Ensure Continuity of Medication for Vets With PTSD

Stories about ensuring proper medication for veterans, possible changes to the Arkansas "private option, and fixing the nation's mental health system.

A report from the Government Accountability Office found that policies put in place to prevent disruption of medication for PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) for soldiers transitioning to civilian life aren’t always clear to providers.

While much has been done to ensure that therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and TBI appear on both formularies for both the Department of Defense and the VA, more should be done to educate providers about coverage policies, according to a GAO report issued yesterday. That lack of clarity could cause medications to be interrupted inappropriately, the report found.

As expected, Arkansas Republican Governor, Asa Hutchinson, has sent HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell a letter asking for a meeting to discuss changes to the state’s waiver that created its “private option” for Medicaid expansion. Reports indicate that Hutchinson wants to discuss several hot-button topics that the Obama administration has rejected in the past, including work requirements as “aspirational” benefits, meaning that beneficiaries would have incentives to earn certain benefits. Federal officials and some interest groups have always sought to keep separate health coverage, which they see as a right, and wages, which are earned.

The letter also broaches the topic of supports for employer-sponsored insurance, an important question considered Arkansas is the home of Wal-Mart, which has been harshly criticized for paying workers such low wages they qualify for many public benefits.

President Barack Obama yesterday called on Congress to follow up on promises to fund gaps in the nation’s mental health system, which he said Republicans typically point out after mass shootings. The statement, reported in The Hill, was part of the president’s broader call for efforts to tackle outbreaks of gun violence.

The mental health reform bill was first proposed in 2013 in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. US Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., has sought support for the measure since that time without success, although it has gained momentum in recent weeks.