Thanks to an act spearheaded by Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, new treatments will be available to soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and their common companion Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act known as the TBI Treatment Act (H.R. 396), innovative treatments will be made available to veterans and active duty military personnel beginning Fiscal Year 2012, which starts in October of 2011.
“I am pleased that the House has recognized the critical need to provide expanded treatment options for thousands of service men and women who have returned from combat with TBI and PTSD,” wrote the Congressman in an entry dated May 25, 2011 on the Republican blog, TexasGOPVote. “These brave men and women have sacrificed for their country, and we as a nation have a solemn duty to ensure that they have access to the most effective treatments available, whether through government or private health care.”
Five-Year Pilot Program
The Congressman continued, explaining that the legislation includes a pilot program to run five years. Active duty service members and veterans suffering from TBI will gain access to private doctors who use innovative treatments that are not available at veteran or military hospitals. A “pay-for-performance” initiative will offer greater pay to doctors who can show improvement through pre-treatment and post-treatment testing.
Pay-for-performance treatment is a growing trend in healthcare that attempts to improve patient care. However, studies show that such initiatives only work when they focus on quality of car and not physician productivity. A recent study at UCLA suggests that bills like the TBI Treatment Act could help shape healthcare reform so that it focuses on patient satisfaction as a measure of success.
Better Patient Satisfaction
Study researchers reviewed information from 124,021 patients and their 1,444 primary care doctors. After pay-for-performance payments began, patient communication, coordination of care and quality of staff interaction all showed great improvement. In medical centers where the performance bonuses went toward programs that reinforced the culture of patient focus, improvements were greater. However, when incentives focused on doctor’s output, patients reported negative experiences.
The study findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by department of health services assistant professor Hector P. Rodriguez from the UCLA School of Public Health. “Our study results suggest that the nature of financial incentives can affect the provision of patient-centered care. Therefore, quality improvement and reimbursement reform efforts should integrate patient-reported experiences of care as a central metric for evaluating reform effects.” 
Not only could the TBI Treatment Act open access to better treatment for brain-injured soldiers, it could improve the quality of the healthcare our soldiers receive overall. The amendment is a fitting vehicle for expressing the gratitude our nation owes to these soldiers.
If you or someone you love suffers from severe traumatic brain injury, our experienced attorneys can help. We will meet with you free of charge to understand the facts of your case and help you decide if a brain injury lawsuit is the right course of action. Contact our office today to begin the process.