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House Approves Congressman Yarmuth's Recommendations, Implements Patient Advocacy in Wounded Warrior Legislation

Yarmuth Championed Efforts Following Historic Walter Reed Hearing

(Washington, DC) After participating in a hearing concerning substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) began exploring the deficiencies in patient advocacy for wounded soldiers.  Troubled by the findings and the lack of answers from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Congressman Yarmuth advocated a series of measures regarding patient advocacy, in the hopes of preventing future calamity.

Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to include patient advocacy measures in H.R. 1538, the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act, which passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 426 to 0.

"By the atrocities we saw at Walter Reed, we know what happens when there isn't a system in place to stand up for the rights of wounded soldiers," Congressman Yarmuth said, referring to the scandal at Walter Reed.  "These brave men and women risk their lives to fight for our country and they deserve the best.  This legislation will ensure that they get it."

The advocacy system outlined in the bill assigns an advocate to each service member to communicate with the patient and family members, oversee their welfare and quality of life, and help resolve all financial, administrative, or personnel matters.  Each advocate may carry a caseload of no more than 30 patients.  Additionally, an independent medical advocate will serve as a counselor and advisor for service members.

The bill, which is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President, also improves training for case managers, improves transition services for those coming to VA from active duty, reforms the disability evaluation program, tracks active duty personnel who require additional treatment, and creates a toll-free hotline for patients and family members who require rapid responses to remediate substantiated complaints.
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