This week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., in urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to cover veterans whose wounds prevent them from having children by expanding Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) coverage, including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
The VA hasn’t offered IVF coverage since a ban established in 1992 but, thanks to a provision from Larsen and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., included in a spending bill in September, there was a temporary lift of the ban for a year.
Larsen, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is looking to permanently remove the IVF ban and successfully led an effort to have the VA examine “the prevalence of infertility among veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” last year.
“After years of fighting to provide reproductive health-care for wounded veterans who dream of becoming parents, earlier this year we successfully passed a provision to circumvent the 1992 ban on IVF services for veterans,” Larsen said earlier this week. “I will continue fighting to ensure swift implementation of the health-care to which veterans are now entitled and for a permanent repeal of the ban.”
This week, Larsen rounded up almost 50 members of Congress--including Wasserman Schultz and fellow Florida Democrats U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson--in sending a letter urging U.S. VA Sec. Robert McDonald in ending the IVF ban.
“As members of Congress, we must uphold our commitment to care for the veterans who risked their lives to protect our essential freedoms,” Wasserman Schultz said. “In passing the 2017 MilCon-VA Appropriations Act, the promise of comprehensive health-care will finally include In Vitro Fertilization for veterans who sustained a service-connected injury impacting their fertility. We now strongly urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to swiftly adopt and implement the necessary regulations to eliminate this longstanding gap and ensure permanent coverage and nationwide access to this important service.”
The proposal has won the support of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, AMVETS, Blue Star Families, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Military Family Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Wounded Warrior Project.