Baucus Announces New Program to Improve Care for Montana Veterans
Senator Applauds United Effort to Boost Rural Veterans Access to Health Care
Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010
(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus announced today Montana is one of three states selected for a new initiative to improve health care for veterans in rural areas, particularly when they're in need of emergency care.
As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus championed Relief for Rural Veterans in Crisis legislation to provide grants to improve rural veterans' access to mental health services and other critical health services through the Rural Hospital Flex Program within the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.
Today's news means Baucus' legislation has come full circle, now that Montana was awarded nearly $300,000 to enhance health care services offered to veterans in rural Montana under the new authority created by his legislation.
"There are too many Montana heroes out there suffering in silence and this program will go a long way toward boosting access to and improving the quality of care, especially when it comes to combat-related injuries," said Baucus. "This is about bringing health care closer to where veterans live and helping bridge the gap between emergency trauma care and care received through the VA. This program is so important because we are a rural state and Montanans are among the first to answer the call to duty. I'll be monitoring this program carefully to see how it's affecting our veterans and to address any additional challenges that might arise."
Montana National Guard Adjutant General Brigadier General John Walsh says this is an important step forward, "This grant will serve as a powerful tool in helping the Montana National Guard strengthen community partnerships and will complement our existing efforts to increase services available to our Service Members and their Families."
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said DPHHS is looking forward to getting this project started. "We're thrilled to be able to work together with so many wonderful partners to bring this new program to veterans in our most rural areas. This project will create community based mental health and crisis intervention programs to serve Montana's war heroes."
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is also hailing this groundbreaking project, "The law enforcement community is looking forward to the enhanced training and awareness of the unique challenges facing our veterans in rural areas. We're thankful to Senator Baucus for having the vision and leadership to make this a reality."
"This cooperative effort will give rural hospitals and other health care providers resources to provide much-needed health care services to our state's veterans," said Montana Health Care Providers President Dick Brown. "This is a win-win project: Our rural health care system will be improved and veterans will be able to receive critical services close to their families and their homes."
Key provisions in the grant include:
∙ Provide access to and increase delivery of quality mental health services including development of crisis intervention initiatives
∙ Improve screening, detection and treatment of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other combat related injuries and illnesses
∙ Increase appropriate enrollment and referral of rural veterans to medical facilities and programs operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
∙ Establish local coalitions with multiple partners in clearly identified regions
∙ Expand existing networks including telemedicine networks
The program aims to help first responders and law enforcement professionals better recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other combat-related illnesses or injuries that unnecessarily send veterans into criminal justice system.
Geographic areas to be served under the grant:
Region 1 - Sanders, Flathead, Lincoln, Lake, Mineral counties
Region 2 - Valley, Custer, Daniels, prairie, Dawson, McCone counties
Region 3 - Ravalli, Powell, Deer Lodge, Granite counties
On August 23rd, MT DPHHS was notified that it was awarded $296,667 for year one, with recommended support of $300,000 per year for years 2 & 3. Alaska and Virginia were also funded under the program. Montana plans to work collaboratively with those states in the coming 3 years. The 2011 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill included $1 million in funding for the program as well.
Baucus' Relief for Rural Veterans in Crisis legislation provides for grants to specifically improve the delivery of mental health services to meet the needs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans living in rural areas - including providing crisis intervention services, detecting post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other signature injuries related to this group of veterans.
Contact: Kate Downen (406) 839-4713 or Kathy Weber (406) 698-1477 # # #
Contact: Kate Downen (406) 839-4713 or Kathy Weber (406) 698-1477
# # #
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