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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

MacArthur and O'Rourke Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Veteran Mental Health Care

March 26, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressmen Tom MacArthur and Beto O'Rourke introduced H.R. 1604, the Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act, which will expand options for veterans seeking mental health care to non-VA facilities:

"As we strive to improve the health care system for the men and women who bravely served our country, we are faced with the challenge of caring for the growing number of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other service-related mental health disorders," MacArthur said. "What makes this challenge even more devastating is that every day, 22 veterans commit suicide – 17 of whom never accessed care at the VA."

"Whether they are unable to get timely or convenient care at VA facilities, or are simply hesitant to utilize their benefits because of the unfair stigma associated with mental health, we are failing those veterans who need our help," MacArthur continued. "In partnership with my colleague, Congressman Beto O'Rourke, I am pleased to introduce the Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act, which will give veterans the flexibility to seek mental health care through any provider, even if it is not a VA facility."

"I've met too many veterans who can't get the mental health care they need and have earned," O'Rouke said. "That is why I support expanding access to care outside the VA."

The MacArthur-O'Rourke Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act will allow veterans with a Choice Card to access mental health care at any facility that is regularly reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These facilities could include community health clinics, which are often more convenient and accessible for veterans.

"My district is home to 65,000 veterans, and advocating on their behalf is a top priority for me," MacArthur added. "This bill will help ensure these men and women don't have to face unnecessary burdens when they need help, and offer them support in their time of need."

Read the full text of the bill here.