REPS. AMODEI, LAMB INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO ENSURE ALL VETERANS HAVE ACCESS TO CARE IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
July 20, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lynn Hatcher, (202) 225-6155
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark E. Amodei (NV-02) and U.S. Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) today introduced H.R. 4506, The Veterans’ Access to Care Concerning Inoculations Needed in Emergency Situations (VACCINES) Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure that all veterans, regardless of their status within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, would be considered eligible to receive testing and vaccination services in the event of a future national public health emergency.
“Our brave servicemen and women who have made a commitment to defending our country and our freedoms must be able to have access to testing and vaccination services in the event of a future national public health emergency. The VACCINES Act will grant the VA the authority to ensure that all veterans have access to this care during these circumstances,” said Rep. Amodei. “As we have seen throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, a virulent and highly-transmissible disease does not discriminate based on an individual’s age or health status, and removing bureaucratic barriers to diagnostics and life-saving vaccines is the most effective way toward getting back on the road to recovery. I look forward to swift consideration of this vital piece of legislation by the House of Representatives.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that we have work to do to ensure that all of our nation’s veterans have access to testing and vaccination during a public health crisis. This commonsense bipartisan bill removes the bureaucratic obstacles at the Veterans’ Administration to providing that care in the event of a future pandemic,” said Rep. Lamb.
Additionally, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion have endorsed Rep. Amodei and Rep. Lamb’s legislation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic left everyone scrambling to navigate where to obtain virus testing and vaccines when they became available. Lawmakers rushed to pass legislation that would provide funding and authority to prevent the spread of, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, including access to testing and vaccines. The VFW supports the Veterans’ Access to Care Concerning Inoculations Needed in Emergency Situations (VACCINES) Act, which would grant VA the authority to provide testing, and vaccines to all veterans in potential future pandemics. We must implement lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future public health emergencies,” said Tammy Barlet, Deputy Director at the National Legislative Service for the VFW.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented in its impact on our nation’s healthcare infrastructure, particularly veteran’s healthcare. VA officials reported approximately 12,000 deaths from complications related to COVID-19 since March 2020. It has limited veteran’s access to care, may have exacerbated underlying medical conditions, and negatively impacted their mental health. The consequences of these outcomes will no doubt be felt for the foreseeable future. Going forward, it is vital we learn from the pandemic to ensure a better response on behalf of the federal government during future public health emergencies. This is why The American Legion is pleased to support this bill which would mandate VA furnish vaccines to veterans during future public health emergencies without copayments. No veteran should have to worry about whether they can pay for a life-saving vaccine,” said Bill Oxford, National Commander of The American Legion.
While veterans of all ages valiantly serve our nation, not all veterans are eligible for enrollment in the VA’s health care system, including those with income exceeding a defined threshold. When the COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out on a large-scale in the early part of this year, veterans had to contend with a confusing enrollment process at the VA that caused unnecessary delays in the midst of a harrowing pandemic.
On March 24, 2021, President Biden signed the bipartisan Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse Act (SAVE LIVES Act), a bill that authorized the VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services to all veterans, regardless of their eligibility within the VA health care system. The VACCINES Act is a forward-looking approach toward ensuring that the VA has this authority for all future national public health emergencies, not just the COVID-19 pandemic.
The VACCINES Act would ensure that in the event of a future national public health emergency, all veterans, regardless of their status within the VA health care system, would be considered eligible to receive testing and vaccination services.
Click here to read the full text of the VACCINES Act.