Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Norma Perez denies money factor in memo on PTSD

VA denies money a factor in PTSD diagnoses
The Associated Press - The Associated PressPosted : Tuesday Jun 3, 2008 20:42:23 EDT

WASHINGTON — A Veterans Affairs Department psychologist denies that she was trying to save money when she suggested that counselors make fewer diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder in injured soldiers.

Norma Perez, who helps coordinate a post-traumatic stress disorder clinical team in central Texas, indicated she might have been out of line to cite growing disability claims in her March 20 e-mail titled “Suggestion.” She said her intent was simply to remind staffers that stress symptoms could also be adjustment disorder. The less severe diagnosis could save VA millions of dollars in disability payouts.

“In retrospect, I realize I did not adequately convey my message appropriately, but my intent was unequivocally to improve the quality of care our veterans received,” Perez said in testimony prepared for delivery Wednesday before a Senate panel.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the VA inspector general are investigating whether there were broader VA policy motives behind the e-mail, which was obtained and disclosed last month by two watchdog groups. VA has strenuously denied that cost-cutting is a factor in its treatment decisions.
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She is the head of a team and should know what this kind of thing would do. She should know better and should know how much harm something like this has done.

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