Ahead of Memorial Day, Congressman Crowley Announces the SAVE Act to Improve How Doctors Provide Care for Veterans

May 13, 2014
Press Release

Under New Legislation, Doctors Would Increase Screenings for Conditions that are More Prevalent in Veterans

(Queens, N.Y.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was joined by members of Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars to announce the Serving America’s Veterans Effectively Act (or SAVE Act), legislation that will prompt doctors to ask their patients if they have served in the armed forces. Including veteran status in a patient record reminds doctors to screen for and treat conditions that may be more prevalent in veterans such as, ALS, hepatitis, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“When it comes to the health of our veterans, knowing is half the battle,” said Rep. Crowley. “This simple question can make all the difference when it comes to caring for a veteran. As part of a patient’s medical history, veteran status can provide critical information to physicians that could inform treatment recommendations, similar to knowing whether a patient has a family history of certain conditions. It could help a physician connect the dots between symptoms that seemed unrelated before getting additional information about military service.”

“Knowing if a patient served in the armed forces provides health care providers with a better understanding of how to treat them and alerts physicians to be on the lookout for specific conditions,” said Vietnam Veterans of America President John Rowan. “I was proud to work with Congressman Crowley on developing a commonsense measure that will have a profound impact on the health of veterans and I thank him for his commitment to those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

Crowley’s legislation would add veteran status under the patient information required by Medicare’s Electronic Health Record program that incentivizes all doctors to use electronic health records to manage health information. Adequately identifying patients who are veterans sets the stage for a more effective course of treatment and can help improve coordination of services, making it easier for patients in private practice to be referred to veteran assistance programs and other critical resources.

Health providers have indicated that knowing a patient is a veteran can help them address and approach that patient in a way that allows for a better relationship and to more accurately assess their needs.

“This is about creating a more productive doctor-patient relationship with our veterans and helping our health care providers address their unique health needs,” continued Crowley. “The wounds of military service may come in many forms, and it’s crucial to make sure that our medical professionals are prepared to treat our returning veterans. As we recognize the bravery of those who answer our nation’s call time and again, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, we also look ahead to what we can do to fulfill our promise to every person who serves in uniform – that we will repay your service and care for you when you return.”

The bill also instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to look for additional ways to improve care and treatment of veterans who see private physicians. Additionally, a grant program would be established to support organizations that educate providers on veteran health needs and on common health concerns among veteran populations.