Senator Cornyn

Cornyn, Hassan, Tillis, Bennet Introduce Bill to Ensure Veterans’ Access to Quality Mental Health Care

December 14, 2023

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced the Veterans Mental Health and Addiction Therapy Quality of Care Act, which would require an independent organization outside of the government to conduct a study to assess the quality of care veterans receive for mental and addiction health treatment from providers within and outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

“The brave men and women who served our nation should never be denied access to the high-quality care they deserve,” said Sen. Cornyn.“This legislation recognizes the unique mental health challenges our veterans face and aims to improve the VA system by providing for an independent evaluation of the quality of life we’re providing for our nation’s bravest.”

“Veterans who are living with mental health challenges deserve easy access to trained health care providers to get the support that they need,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan legislation will help veterans make informed choices about whether to seek mental health care through the VA or community providers, and provide guidance on how to improve outcomes for veterans who receive mental health care. I will continue working to make sure that Granite State veterans, whose great sacrifices have kept us free, receive the health care that they need.”

“It is critical the VA provides the highest quality mental health services to our veterans through implementing the best treatment practices available,” said Sen. Tillis. “This legislation enables the VA to improve its mental health services by studying best practices’ administered by non-VA providers. Veterans deserve the best care possible, and I am proud to cosponsor this legislation on behalf of the more than 600,000 veterans who call North Carolina home.”

“We owe our veterans a huge debt of gratitude, and Congress must do everything we can to ensure those who have sacrificed so much for our country get the care and support they deserve,” said Sen. Bennet. “This bill is an important step toward understanding the barriers they face and improving access to high-quality substance abuse and mental health services for veterans across the country.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Pat Fallon (TX-04) and Sanford Bishop (GA-02).


The Department of Veterans Affairs is home to the nation’s largest integrated health care system that provides comprehensive health services to U.S. military veterans who are enrolled. However, recent estimates indicate that as many as 70% of VA-eligible veterans received their care from external providers. Given the high rate of veteran suicide due to mental and addiction health conditions, a study is needed to better understand if current practices provide our veterans with the best mental and addiction quality of care.

The Veterans Mental Health and Addiction Therapy Quality of Care Act would require an independent and objective organization outside of the VA to conduct a study to:

  • Analyze the results of comparable instances of addiction and mental health care between inside and outside providers using objective criteria such as symptom scores and suicide risk;
  • Ascertain to what extent outside providers are using evidence-based practices in the treatment of addiction and mental health issues;
  • Identify potential gaps in coordination between internal and external providers in responding to individuals seeking addiction or mental health care;
  • Evaluate the availability of coordinated care for veterans who have separate or related conditions which may be impacting their mental health;
  • Assess providers’ military cultural competency;
  • Gauge the ease and flexibility of sharing medical records with a veteran’s health care team;
  • Consider to what extent providers are conducting outcome monitoring throughout a veteran’s treatment to track progress or lack thereof;
  • And measure overall patient satisfaction.

The legislation is supported by the Disabled American Veterans Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Veteran Health Care Policy Initiative.