Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the first woman to chair the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the daughter of a disabled WWII veteran, introduced a bill that would amend the VA benefits to include coverage of in-vitro fertilization for soldiers who have suffered spinal cord or genitourinary injuries. According to the Associated Press and The Boston Globe, since 2003 over 1830 veterans have suffered injuries that prevent them from having children. IVF is not covered by the VA under traditional law, and veterans have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for this expensive and tricky procedure.
In a press release from the Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Murray said, “VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded. For those with such catastrophic injuries, that includes access to the fertility care they need.” In April, the Department of Defense issued a letter stating that IVF was authorized for those on Tricare and this bill would extend that same benefit to veterans who have since separated from the military.
The VA does, in fact, cover quite a few fertility treatments. Currently, the VA does cover fertility counseling, many of the diagnostic tests, and intrauterine insemination – wherein the sperm is collected from the male and the egg is inseminated in the uterus. However, IVF is specifically barred in the law as-written today. According to Sen. Murray, “These veterans deserve more.” The bill also provides for the inception of child care programs at veteran centers and hopes to improve the overall outreach to women’s veterans.
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