government

Combat care for veterans projected to keep growing

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 8, 2011

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Health care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $55 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

More than 1.3 million of the 2.3 million active-duty and reserve soldiers who have returned from overseas by March 2011 qualified for Dept. of Veterans Administration health services, a July 27 CBO report states. Nearly 685,000 military personnel have sought medical care from the VA since 2002.

In 2010, the Veterans Health Administration spent $1.9 billion to treat 400,000 patients who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Annual spending is expected to climb to at least $5.5 billion, and could reach $8.4 billion, by 2020.

The report states that traumatic brain injury and mental illnesses, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, are conditions for which treatment could result in substantial future costs for the VA. However, the administration lacks certainty on the number of military personnel diagnosed with PTSD or TBI.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/08/08/gvbf0808.htm.

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