Senator Looking Into Pentagon Decision To Deny Brain-Injury Coverage For Troops

The head of a congressional subcommittee announced today that she is looking into why the Pentagon's health plan won't pay for veterans with traumatic brain injuries to receive an intensive form of rehabilitation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight, said she's starting the inquiry because of troubling questions raised by NPR and ProPublica in a December report about a contract study funded by Tricare, the Pentagon's health plan.

The study found limited evidence of the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation programs. The rehabilitation, which has been used by major medical centers for at least 30 years, is designed to retrain patients' brains to perform basic life functions.

But in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, McCaskill cited the NPR/ProPublica investigation, which found that scientific experts had questioned the Tricare-funded study in confidential reviews, calling it "deeply flawed" and "unacceptable."

Read the full story about McCaskill's letter at ProPublica's Web site.

(T. Christian Miller, of ProPublica, and NPR's Daniel Zwerdling have been reporting this year on troops returning home with traumatic brain injuries. Click here for the NPR News investigation Brain Wars: How The Military Is Failing Its Wounded.)

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