A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must overhaul how it cares for veterans with combat-related mental health care illnesses.
By a 10-1 decision, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said it could not conclude that the VA’s treatment of veterans, which sometimes causes health care claims to remain unaddressed for several years, was unconstitutional.
The panel said only Congress or the president had authority to direct changes to speed up how veterans are treated. Nonprofit groups contended that because the agency took so long to process claims and allow veterans to get treatment, it contributed to despair that has led to roughly 6,500 suicides among U.S. veterans each year.
The plaintiffs, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United For Truth, plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.