The DOD has now issued a final rule expanding access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment for service members. The rule eliminates quantitative and nonquantitative limitations on care. All inpatient mental health day limits were eliminated, as were annual and lifetime limitations on outpatient services and substance use disorder treatment. Copayments for mental health visits were reduced. Substance use disorder treatment will now include outpatient medication-assisted protocols.
The new rule represents a step forward for service members and their families.
Still, their effects need to be documented better. According to former U.S. Army psychiatrist Charles Engel, M.D., a senior scientist at the RAND Corporation in Boston:
“What works for those in uniform may be in tension with what is best for non-uniformed military health system beneficiaries. There are lots of complex pieces to these changes, but there has been little large, independent health care services analysis of the system.”
More information on this topic can be found at Psychiatric News Alert, and in the book Care of Military Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families from APA Publishing. APA members may purchase the book at a discount here.