Chairman Takano Introduces REMOVE Copays Act
Legislation will remove financial barrier to VA mental healthcare
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif) introducedH.R. 7589, the Reduce and Eliminate Mental Health Outpatient Veteran Copays Act or REMOVE Copays Act. This legislation will remove the financial barrier to VA mental healthcare for enrolled veterans by eliminating all copays for a veteran’s first three outpatient mental health appointments each year. This bill is part of a larger push by the Biden-Harris Administration to increase access to mental healthcare for all Americans and was specifically requested in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Fiscal Year 2023 budget request. This legislation has the strong support of 15 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and mental health advocacy groups, including American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The American Legion, American Psychological Association, Association of VA Psychologist Leaders, Disabled American Veterans, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Foundation for Women Warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Minority Veterans of America, Modern Military Association of America, Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Wounded Warrior Project. See full bill text here and additional mental health resources available for veterans here.
“Cost should never be a barrier to accessing vital VA mental healthcare. That’s why I’m introducing the REMOVE Copays Act,” said Chairman Takano. “This legislation will eliminate copays for a veteran’s first three outpatient mental health appointments at VA each year—a simple step that will increase access to lifesaving mental healthcare for our nation’s veterans. I was pleased to see the White House make similar requests to agencies across the federal government in this year’s budget request and grateful that our Committee can be among the first to turn it into legislation, so VA can continue to be a leader in this space. I hope my colleagues will join the 15 Veterans Service Organizations and mental health advocacy groups in supporting this critical legislation and quickly send it to President Biden’s desk.”
What VSOs and mental health advocacy groups are saying:
“Mental health is just as vital as physical health. Just as we look after the physical wellbeing of those who have fought to defend the United States, we must also protect their mental wellbeing. For that reason, AFSP stands in strong support of the REMOVE Copays Act, and we thank Chairman Takano for his ongoing support for those who have served our country,” said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Senior Vice President for Public Policy, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"The American Legion is proud to support the REMOVE Copays Act, which eliminates the first three copays for outpatient mental health appointments at VA,” said Paul Dillard, National Commander of The American Legion. “No veteran should have to forgo mental health services due to financial limitations. It is essential that we eliminate any barriers to care to ensure that veterans can access the services they need when they need them. We thank Chairman Takano for his continued leadership on this issue.”
“Eliminating the barriers to care for our nation’s veterans is vitally important. Reducing the costs of mental health care within the Department of Veterans Affairs can increase the number of individuals willing to receive care,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “I applaud the efforts of Chairman Takano in putting forward the Reduce and Eliminate Mental Health Outpatient Veteran Copays Act or REMOVE Copays Act, aimed at reducing the cost of mental health visits for veterans through eliminating copayments for some visits.”
"It is my pleasure to officially endorse the REMOVE co-pays Act on behalf of the Association of VA Psychologists Leaders,” said AVAPL President Dr. Kaki York. “We believe that this bill will be instrumental in suicide prevention, removing financial barriers to Veterans seeking mental health services.
"More than 3.7-million veterans are living with mental health conditions, the vast majority of which are service-connected. While great strides have been successful in breaking down the social stigma tied to seeking help, financial burdens are often cited as a chief deterrent from receiving the life-changing and life-saving assistance that these former service members have earned and deserve,” said Peter Perkowski, Minority Veterans of America’s Legal & Policy Director. “The impacts of this bill will be especially important to our nation’s minority-identifying veterans who, according to the VA’s own statistics, are not only more likely to develop service-connected mental health conditions but are also subjected to greater civilian mental health disparities than their non-minority counterparts. For them, and many others, a copay can be the difference between receiving care and not. We applaud Chairman Takano and other sponsoring Members of Congress for ensuring no former service member is left behind. We urge Congress to pass this bill quickly and to send it to the President’s desk in short order.”
"The Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) is pleased to support Chairman Takano's Reduce and Eliminate Mental Health Outpatient Veteran Copays Act (REMOVE Copays Act),” said TJ Wilcox-Olson, President of NOVA. “This bill will enable Veterans to seek mental health outpatient care with no copays through VA annually. As nurses who care for Veterans, we understand the need to reduce barriers to mental health care and know that VA's expertise in this area is unmatched. NOVA looks forward to working with the Committee to get this bill passed quickly."
"The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute enthusiastically endorses Chairman Takano’s ‘‘Reduce and Eliminate Mental Health Outpatient Veteran Copays Act” (REMOVE Copays Act),” said VHPI Interim Executive Director Jasper Craven. “Eliminating copays for veterans’ first three outpatient mental health appointments through VA yearly will further reduce barriers for receiving needed mental health care. With continued mental health after-effects of international conflicts and domestic Covid-19 pandemic, veterans will immediately benefit from this far-sighted legislation."
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at http://VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
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