A Monday ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals that it cannot order Veterans Affairs to revamp its mental healthcare system was heavily covered, by publications like the AP and Reuters and by newspapers in various parts of the country. Despite the court’s ruling, the coverage tended to focus on criticism of VA’s mental healthcare system.
The AP (5/8, Elias) reports that on Monday, 10 judges on a “special 11-judge panel” of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier demand, made by a three-judge panel of the same court, that Veterans Affairs “dramatically overhaul” its mental healthcare system. In ruling on a lawsuit filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, the 11-judge panel “said that any such changes need to be ordered by Congress” or the President. A lawyer for the two vets groups “said he will ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.”
Running a shortened version of the AP story in its “National Briefing/West” section, the New York Times (5/8, A20, Subscription Publication) reports that when it made its ruling last year, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel ordered VA “to ensure that suicidal veterans are seen immediately.” That panel “found the department’s ‘unchecked incompetence’ in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.”
— “Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul,”Paul Elias, Associated Press, May 7, 2012.