Senators Seek Major Improvements in Medical Care for Wounded Warriors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               
May 3, 2007                    

Contact: Pryor, Michael Teague (501) 324-6336
             Pryor, Lisa Ackerman (202) 224-2353
            Chambliss, Lindsay Mabry (202) 224-3423

Pryor, Chambliss Seek Major Improvements in Medical Care for Wounded Warriors

WASHINGTON , D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) today introduced legislation to ensure the medical needs of wounded servicemen and women are properly met and that bureaucracy does not interfere with their progress.

 The Senators – both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee – introduced the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007 to improve the access and quality of health care our military personnel receive.  Specifically, the legislation requires case managers for outpatients to handle no more than 17 cases and review each case once a week; creates a system of patient advocates; increases funding to hire additional physicians, increases training for health care professionals, medical case managers and patient advocates with an emphasis on identifying and treating Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries; establishes a toll-free hotline for patients and their families to report problems with medical facilities or patient care; creates an independent advocate to counsel service members appearing before medical evaluation boards and establishes a pilot program to improve the transition from military to civilian life for wounded combat veterans. Similar legislation, H.R.1538, was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 426-0 in late March.

“More than 24,900 soldiers have been wounded in Iraq . We owe it to them and their loved ones to have a responsive health care system in place, in addition to the very best medical care available,” said Pryor.  “Our legislation increases the resources available to our veterans to allow them to focus on healing rather than red tape.”

 “Our service members need and deserve the best medical care and attention we can offer them, and this bill will help provide that,” said Senator Chambliss.  “They do not need to be disadvantaged by an out-dated, bureaucratic process that adds more stress to their recovery.”

Pryor and Chambliss said reports of bureaucratic hurdles and substandard facilities at Walter Reed intensified their efforts to improve the military healthcare system. Their goal with this legislation is to prevent such incidents from being repeated at Walter Reed or any other military health care facility nationwide.

“Last week, I visited Arkansas soldiers at Walter Reed. They are determined and inspiring individuals, but they will need top-notch medical care and a lot of prayer in order to recover,” Pryor said. “I do believe it would be helpful for them, as well as the thousands of other wounded servicemen and women in similar situations, to have an advocate on their side who fully understands the ins and outs of the system.”

“This legislation is a step in the right direction to reform and modernize the out-patient treatment process, and it will increase the morale and welfare of our recovering service members.  They deserve our fullest support.  We are committed to meeting their needs, and this bill will accomplish that,” said Chambliss.

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