With Senate Amendment, Chairman Takano’s Legislation Heads to the President’s Desk
Legislation will expand COVID-19 vaccine access to veterans & caregivers
Jenni Geurink 202-819-4684
Jenni Geurink 202-819-4684
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the House unanimously passed H.R. 1276, the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans’ and Caregivers’ COVID-19 Immunizations Now Expanded Act of 2021or the VA VACCINE Act of 2021, as amended by the Senate. Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Bost introduced the VA VACCINE Act on February 24and in just a week and a half, their bill earned the support of more than 50 additional cosponsors—including all Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the endorsement of nine Veterans Service Organizations(VSOs) including Paralyzed Veterans of America, Minority Veterans of America, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, Wounded Warrior Project, AMVETS, and Veterans for Common Sense. The VA VACCINE Act was amended by the Senate and returned to the House as the SAVE LIVES Act-- this bipartisan legislation is now heading to the President’s desk and will give VA the authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, caregivers, and their spouses.
“Today, we sent vital legislation to the President’s desk that will ensure VA has the authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, caregivers, and veteran spouses who walk through its doors,” said Chairman Takano. “VA has proven itself as one the most effective vaccinators in the nation— but it’s clear VA needs additional authority to continue leading this effort to get as many shots into arms as possible. After hearing some veterans were turned away because they weren’t eligible for VA care, I saw a need and worked with Ranking Member Bost, VA, and the VSO community to speedily pass the VA VACCINE Act through the House with over 50 cosponsors in just two weeks. The strength of VA’s internal healthcare delivery system and the Department’s successful role in national vaccination efforts makes this expansion possible, but I know this is a heavy lift. That’s why this expansion must be contingent on having adequate supply of the vaccine— even with the expanded authority granted by the Senate, VA must continue to prioritize vaccinations and healthcare delivery for our nation’s veterans that are enrolled in VA care. Given VA’s vital role as a national healthcare entity, Congress must fully resource and empower VA to be staffed and equipped with talented and dedicated professionals committed to providing our veterans with the best healthcare possible. When COVID-19 vaccine supply is readily available, our bipartisan legislation will give VA the authority it needs to vastly ramp up its vaccination efforts, and I look forward to President Biden signing my bill, as amended, into law.”
The SAVE LIVES Act, originally based on Chairman Takano’s VA VACCINE Act of 2021, will expand VA’s authority so they can provide vaccines to:
- Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA’s healthcare system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above VA’s threshold;
- Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
- Veterans living abroad who rely on the Foreign Medical Program (including those who reside in the Philippines)
- Spouses of veterans; and
- CHAMPVA recipients (spouses or children of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).
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