For those wondering about how hyperbaric medicine came up in yesterday's House appropriation hearing, it was because you have a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. There have been all kinds of stories lately about how terrible lobbyists are. Of course, when you have one working for your interests, hopefully that will make a difference.
H-140 is a very small hearing room for DoD hearings. They only permitted 5 members of the public and about 5 press members into the room. I waited outside in the cold for an hour before we were permitted into the Capitol. Because I was there, Chairman Murtha called on me from the audience to talk about the score card and whether the people on it were real people. I let him know that he actually knew 3 of the 16 people. He knew the Brigadier General who was the first patient treated, one of the physicians responsible for 3 of the Airmen is actually the father of a Marine Hero from the Iraq war, and he knows the Navy SEAL who was returned to duty as well.
Yesterday's hearing victories came about because Secretary Hoffmann and I both met with Mr. Dicks, who has Fort Lewis Washington in his district, and Sanford Bishop, who has Fort Benning, Georgia. Mr. Dicks was quite clear that with the score card showing 16 of 16 recovering, that the time for the treatment was now, not after some big study. Mr. Bishop pointed out the $6.3 million in recruiting and training costs that the National Brain Injury Rescue & Rehabilitation Project already had saved the government. (See the Score Card on the IHMA website at www.HyperbaricMedicalAssociation.org).
Former Secretary of the Army, Marty Hoffmann, and I have been doing our rounds again this year. You may recall that last year we had 200 Hill visits, which finally forced the DoD Medical system to take positive action and convene the consensus conference last December, where they declared hyperbaric oxygen treatments at 1.5 ata to be safe. The DoD then put the UHMS in charge of a $40 million study to determine in another 1 1/2 years whether HBOT 1.5 works or not, and all of the work will be done at military chambers, with all data of the treatment results retained by the military and run by the very people who have been blocking this for 30 years. I will leave you to your own conclusions about how unbiased the study will be. That was reported by DoD medical yesterday on page 9 of the hearing testimony.
Keep in mind that DoD Medical blocked chambers going into Walter Reed and Bethesda in 2005; blocked again the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center chambers from being completed in 2006, despite the Chief of Naval Operations putting in $8 million to finish the chambers; (after having flown me down in 2002 to help get them completed. Steve Reimers designed the system there.) They ignored the presentation Paul Harch gave in 2002, again at Walter Reed in 2004, and did away with the Joint Advisory Committee on Clinical Hyperbaric Medicine (JACCHM) in 2005 after the main Air Force and main Navy hyperbaric physicians stated that Paul Harch's HBOT 1.5 research on brain injury should be funded and studied. JACCHM was created by Fred Cramer in 1983 that has given us wound care, burn care, and diabetic foot wound data so Paul Harch and I could get CMS to approve it in 2003. After the SG of the Navy meeting on August 14th, they have continued to "Study" the issue, while our team has proceeded to get veterans of the war treated and help them recover.
Further, HR 7299 is nearing reintroduction in this Congress. We expect to have a lot more than two members of Congress on this version. Your letters have mattered to the offices we have talked to, so please continue to log onto the IHMA website and write your members of Congress about this important legislation. This legislation will put the principle into law that if a treatment works to improve an individual patient, 3rd party payers must pay for that treatment for that individual patient. Right now it applies to TBI/PTSD and Tricare/VA, but Medicare and Medicaid are next.
As we have seen your individual stories, and as your Members of Congress have seen your stories, all have been touched by the daily struggles that each of you go though with your loved ones, and the fact that HBOT has been working is further "proof" that it works. Today many discount anecdotal proof. However, that is exactly how Congress makes law, by anecdote.
Here is the link to the Army Times Article
We will have a e-news letter out shortly to everyone who has signed up for it on the IHMA website.