Congress passed AAN-driven legislation on Monday, introduced by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that will create up to six Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE) within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. These centers “will be responsible for creating a national system of care and research for both new veterans experiencing epilepsy and the 89,000 currently enrolled veterans with epilepsy.” John Booss, MD, a former director of neurology at the VA and member of AAN’s Legislative Affairs Committee, helped draft the bill and said, “With veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq after suffering from traumatic brain injury, the VA is certain to see a spike in epilepsy cases that they are not prepared to adequately address… This legislation will restore the VA as a national leader in epilepsy care and research.”
The ECoEs will be located in the VA Polytrauma Rehab Centers, which are designed to provide care for veterans and returning service members “with injuries to more than one physical region or organ system.” The locations include:
In order for the above locations to become officially designated as an ECoE, the facilities will have to meet the following criteria:
- Must be able to develop the necessary capacity to function as a center of excellence in research, education, and training in diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. For example, a VA healthcare facility must be affiliated with a medical school that trains residents in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy, including neurosurgery.
- Must also be able to attract the participation of scientists who are capable of ingenuity and creativity in healthcare research efforts.
- Must have an advisory committee composed of veterans and experts to advise the VA medical center director and the director of the ECoE on policy matters pertaining to the activities of the center.
- Must have the capability to conduct effectively evaluations of the activities of such center.
- Must have the capability to coordinate (as part of an integrated national system) the education, clinical, and research activities within ECoEs.
- Must have the capability to jointly develop a national VA consortium of providers with interest in treating epilepsy at facilities without ECoEs in order to ensure better access to state-of-the-art research, diagnosis, care, and education for traumatic brain injury and epilepsy throughout the VA system. The VA epilepsy consortium should include a designated epilepsy referral clinic in each Veterans Integrated Service Network.
- Must have the capability to assist in the expansion of VA’s use of information systems and databases to improve the quality and delivery of care for veterans.
- Must also have the capability to assist in the expansion of the VA’s telehealth program to develop, transmit, monitor and review neurological diagnostic tests, such as electroencephalograms.
- Must have the ability to collaborate with VA’s Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers.
(Source: Summary of H.R.2818, VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence)
Do you think the legislation passed by Congress is a positive move? Will this help neurologists treat service members with epilepsy?