Senate Passes Bill Expanding Health Care For Veterans With Illnesses From Burning Fires

Senior Airman Frances Gavalis, 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment manager, throws unserviceable uniform items into a burning pit here, March 10. The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would provide health care for veterans suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to toxic combustion fireplaces, but some critics say the measure doesn’t go far enough. (Julianne Showalter/US Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would provide health care for veterans suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to toxic combustion fireplaces, but some critics say the measure doesn’t go far enough.

The Senate approved the Burn Pit Veterans Health Care Act in a voice vote. It now goes to the House, where some lawmakers are pushing for more comprehensive legislation that would provide health care and disability compensation to veterans exposed to fireplaces.

The senses. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who sponsored the Health Care for Burn Pit Act, said the Senate bill is the first step in a longer three-phase strategy .

“Our bill is a necessary step in connecting an entire generation of veterans to the VA care they need and can’t wait for,” said Tester, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “This kind of quick action is a testament to what can be achieved when we all row in the same direction, and I encourage my colleagues in the House to join us in pushing this bill across the finish line. to quickly deliver relief where it is most needed.”

The bill’s goal is to close gaps in eligibility criteria that prevent about 1 million post-9/11 veterans from accessing care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the office said. Test.

Veterans can now receive health care through the VA for up to five years after release for any condition related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Health Care for Burn Pit Veteran Act would extend this period to 10 years.

Additionally, the bill would grant access to VA health care to every veteran who served after November 1998 with a discharge date after September 11, 2001.

The legislation would also spur research into the effects of toxic exposure and increase training on the subject for VA employees.

Some veterans’ organizations support the measure, but they stressed on Wednesday the need for more encompassing changes.

“While we thank Test Chair and Ranking Member Moran for taking the first step to resolving this issue, we emphasize that there is still work to be done,” said Jose Romas, Vice President of Wounded Warrior Project. . “No veteran who has suffered a burn pit exposure should ever be denied VA care, whether they served 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or more.”

Moran is the ranking Republican on the VA Senate Committee.

The Senate plan includes introducing subsequent measures to provide disability benefits to veterans exposed to burning fireplaces and establishing a new process for the VA to determine what conditions to place on its presumptive list. The conditions on the list require less evidence to be approved for benefits.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee has been working on a comprehensive reform bill, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, which would overhaul the VA’s process for handling toxic exposure claims and dramatically increase payments to veterans. fighters who served near the hearths of combustion.

The House bill would increase spending by more than $281 billion over the next decade due to expanded eligibility for disability compensation, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. Under the bill, about 1.5 million additional veterans would become eligible for VA health care, and 2 million veterans would be eligible for disability compensation.

The Senate bill, which focuses solely on health care, has a price tag of about $1 billion, Tester said.

The two chambers are negotiating on the issue. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Wednesday that the department “remains not to give our positions on these things.” The agency only provides technical assistance to lawmakers to ensure bills are accurate, he said.

“Here’s what I’m going to say: I think it’s important for Congress to be heard on these issues,” McDonough said. “But we spend our time moving as aggressively as possible with the authority we already have.”

As Congress debates the bills, the VA has moved forward in granting a pathway to benefits and health care for some veterans exposed to fireplaces.

McDonough implemented a new approach to reviewing the department’s presumptive listing requirements. While previous efforts relied heavily on studies from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the new approach looks more broadly at research and data from other sources, as well as claims filed by alumni. fighters, the secretary said.

Using this approach, the VA decided in August to add three conditions to the presumptive list: asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis. The department said there was enough evidence to link the conditions to airborne toxins from burning fires during overseas deployments.

The department, under President Joe Biden, is currently reviewing research on several rare cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx and salivary gland tumors, as well as lung cancers and constrictive bronchiolitis.

McDonough said Wednesday that the VA would have an update on the review of those cancers soon, though he didn’t give a specific timeline.

About Antoine L. Cassell

Check Also

Caroline Flack’s mother Christine says TV presenters need ‘better duty of care’

Caroline Flack’s mother said TV presenters needed improvements in ‘duty of care’ because of the …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.