January 28, 2020

Chairman Takano Introduces Legislation to Address Veteran Suicide, Provide Emergency Health Care to All Veterans

Bill Provides No-Cost Emergent Mental Health Care for All Veterans in Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced the Veterans’ Acute Crisis Care for Emergent Suicide Symptoms Act or Veterans’ ACCESS Act to ensure all veterans-- regardless of discharge status or whether they receive care at VA hospitals -- have access to emergent mental health care. Under this simple, meaningful legislation, no veteran will receive a bill for the care they need during a mental health crisis.

 

“No veteran should be forced to choose between getting the emergency mental health care they need and figuring out how to pay for it,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “I’m proud to introduce legislation to take cost out of the equation and ensure all veterans can get this critical care during a mental health crisis without any doubt about who will pay for it. By expanding eligibility for emergent care, my bill will help save veterans’ lives.”

 

Chairman Takano’s landmark legislation authorizes VA to pay for or provide emergency mental health care for any veteran through consultation with the Veterans Crisis Line -- regardless of their eligibility for other VA health care benefits, enrollment status, service-connection, or discharge status. In addition, it will remove all out-of-pocket costs for veterans, help connect veterans with other VA benefits for which they may be eligible, and improve care coordination so no veteran can fall through the cracks. Building on the Committee’s 2020 strategy to address veteran suicide, this legislation will address three goals: strengthening economic supports, strengthening access and delivery of care, and identifying and supporting people at risk. 

 

Background: For veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system, the cost of medical care frequently prevents them from seeking the care they not only need but deserve. Last April, the Committee heard about a veteran who received emergency inpatient treatment from VA for a mental health crisis. However, because this veteran was not enrolled in the VA health care system, he received a $20,000 bill. While VA saved this veteran’s life, the bill exacerbated his mental health crisis. The Veterans’ Acute Crisis Care for Emergent Suicide Symptoms Act, or Veterans’ ACCESS Act will ensure no veteran is charged for getting the care they need during a mental health crisis. 

 

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

 

If you or a veteran you know are struggling, contact the Veteran Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1, or text 838255.

 

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