House Bill 50 is currently being debated in the North Carolina legislator. The longer name for this bill is the North Carolina Veterans Traumatic Brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment and Recovery Act. If passed, it would allow veterans access to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. This therapy can help veterans who have sustained traumatic brain injuries or have post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in combat. The question is, if the bill is passed, who is going to pay for it?
During HBOT treatment, patients sit in a chamber. The chamber can be either full-body or be specialized for one area, such as the head. Once the patient is inside the chamber, it fills up with atmospheric pressure. This pumps the patient’s blood into areas it does not always reach. The more oxygen inside the chamber, the better able the cells are to repair themselves, thus treating the condition of the patient.
“We need to provide our veterans with the treatment they so badly need when they return home,” says Brendan Garcia of Vet Law. “They have served our country and put their lives at risk for the freedom of all Americans. How are we going to deny them treatment for injuries sustained while they served? Even more, why are we making them pay for it out of their own pocket?”
These are good questions and currently, lawmakers are trying to answer them. If the Senate approves the bill, it will then go to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature.
The next bill up for debate will address the issue of who will pay for the treatment. This separate bill proposes creating a state Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Fund. If this bill is approved, veterans needing HBOT treatment could receive financial assistance through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). The bill also allows the fund to encompass not just state dollars, but also those from private donors, gifts, and earned revenue.
Together, these two bills would allow veterans to get the treatment they need upon returning home, without having to succumb to financial hardship in order to do so.