On May 9, 2013, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a legislative hearing on proposed bills pending before the Committee. Members of the Committee reviewed twenty bills that addressed health care issues ranging from veterans’ access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) health care services to eradicating homelessness among veterans.
Paralyzed Veterans of America has been aggressively advocating for many of the bills discussed during the hearing, and provided the Committee with a statement for the record. Bills being considered that are of particular importance to Paralyzed Veterans included issues involving VA beneficiary travel, caregiver assistance, benefits, fertility assistance and benefits for the children of veterans with Spina Bifida.
One of the highest priority bills for Paralyzed Veterans is S. 851, the “Caregiver Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013.” Paralyzed Veterans expressed full support of this legislation, as it proposes to extend eligibility to the VA Family Caregiver Program to all veterans with a serious service-connected disability. Currently, many Paralyzed Veterans members are excluded from this program by the requirement that veterans must have incurred their disability on or after the arbitrary date of September 11, 2001. Paralyzed Veterans informed the Committee that Paralyzed Veterans' members would benefit from this program more than any other population of veterans, and also encouraged the members of the Committee to consider amending the legislation to ensure that veterans who have incurred a catastrophic illness or disease will benefit from the caregiver program.
Paralyzed Veterans also supports, S. 633, a bill that would extend VA beneficiary travel reimbursement benefits to non-service connected catastrophically disabled veterans. If enacted, this legislation would provide reimbursement for travel that is in connection with care provided through a VA special disabilities rehabilitation program to veterans with a spinal cord injury or disorder, double or multiple amputations, or vision impairment. Such care must also be provided on an inpatient basis or during temporary lodging at a VA facility. Paralyzed Veterans believes that eliminating the burden of transportation costs as a barrier to receiving health care, will improve veterans’ overall health and well being, as well as decrease, if not prevent, future costs associated with both primary and long-term chronic, acute care.
The “Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2013,” is another bill that Paralyzed Veterans supports. If enacted, this legislation would authorize the VA to provide reproductive services for service-connected catastrophically disabled veterans. The bill is a significant step in the direction of securing much needed and long overdue treatment modalities that are critical components of catastrophically disabled veterans’ maximizing their independence and quality of life.
Paralyzed Veterans legislative staff will monitor the progress of the legislation, and believes that enactment of many of the proposed bills will significantly enhance the health care services available to veterans, service members, and their families.
Learn more about the work of Paralyzed Veterans of America on Capitol Hill