H.R. 5600 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a one-year pilot program to treat a limited number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, chronic pain, or opiate addiction by using Magnetic eResonance Therapy technology (MeRT technology). The bill also would require VA to report to the Congress on the results of that pilot program. MeRT technology is a customized neurological treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain tissue. The Brain Treatment Center (BTC) in Southern California developed the MeRT technology and has proprietary rights to the treatment. Over the 2012-2015 period, the center has treated more than 400 veterans at four locations in the state of California and the state of Washington.
Under this proposal, VA would be required to carry out the one-year pilot program with no more than 50 veterans in one or two medical facilities. Because the technologuy is proprietary, we expect that VA would contract with BTC to provide MeRT technology to those veterans. On the basis of information from BTC, CBO expects the average patient at VA would undergo an initial assessment at a cost of $1,000 and at least 20 MeRT sessions over a 30-day period at a cost of $22,000.
On that basis, CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $1 million over the 2017-2021 period; that spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5600 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
H.R. 5600 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.