The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) today sent letters to lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to express support for legislation that would expand complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) options for the nation's veterans.
The Expanding Care for Veterans Act (H.R. 4887) would expand research, education, and delivery of CAM to veterans. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct research and develop a plan for inclusion of CAM, carry out a program for three years to "assess the feasibility and advisability of integrating [CAM services] with other health care services" provided by VA medical centers, and study any barriers that exist to receiving and administering CAM services in VA facilities.
H.R. 4887 was introduced on June 18 by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and the bill language is also included in a broader Senate bill, the Restoring Veterans Trust Act (S. 2413). AHPA's letter was sent to lawmakers participating in a conference committee that is negotiating final language for legislation designed to improve veterans' health care. AHPA urges the conference committee to include provisions of H.R. 4887 in the committee's final version of the bill.
"While the Department of Veterans Affairs is to be commended for taking initial steps to make complementary and alternative medicine more widely available to veterans, reports have shown that more veterans are going outside the VA health system to use complementary and alternative medicine therapies to treat pain and mental health conditions while reducing their dependence on narcotics," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "H.R. 4887 is a good step toward expanding access to CAM for our nation's veterans."