Military health-care reform leaves wounded warriors entangled in more red tape?
Reforms meant to streamline military health care for severely wounded service members have in many cases worsened the bureaucracy, causing duplication, confusion and turf battles, according to families, congressional overseers and advocates for veterans.
After reports that troops recovering from catastrophic wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other facilities were getting lost in the military’s system, a high-profile commission recommended in 2007 that every severely wounded service member be assigned a federal recovery coordinator. This “single point of contact” was to cut red tape and shepherd the wounded through recovery and the transition back to military duty or civilian life.
But at least a dozen Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs programs have sprung up to coordinate the care.
The proliferation of programs and case managers, intended to better manage health care, “may actually have the opposite effect,” Debra Draper, health-care director for the Government Accountability Office, told a congressional committee last month.
A Rand Corp. study released last week found more than 200 programs sponsored or funded by the Defense Department to help troops with psychological health and traumatic brain injury, leading to significant duplication within and across branches of service.
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