March 19, 2021

Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation Introduced by Senator Hassan to Expand Vaccine Access for NH Veterans & their Families

WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and her colleagues to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all veterans, their spouses, and their caregivers through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While the Manchester VA Medical Center and many other VA Medical Centers offer vaccines to veterans who receive their health care through the VA, current law restricts the VA from providing no-cost vaccine options for veterans not enrolled in VA services.  

 

“VA Medical Centers in New Hampshire and across the country are working hard to get vaccines into the arms of veterans, and this bipartisan bill would support these critical efforts,” said Senator Hassan. “Expanding vaccines at no-cost to all veterans, their spouses, and their caregivers is an important step in our efforts to vaccinate Americans and get through this pandemic. I will keep working with my colleagues to get this bill passed into law as quickly as possible.”

 

The bipartisan Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act would allow the VA to provide no-cost COVID vaccination services to all veterans, the spouses of veterans, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available. The legislation also urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to adjust the VA’s vaccine allocation based on this increased eligibility pool, as much as the supply chain allows.

 

The SAVE LIVES Act will expand VA’s authority to provide vaccines to: 

 

  • Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA’s health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain 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;
  • 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).

 

Senator Hassan is working to support veterans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Senator recently participated in a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, where she pressed top officials at the VA about what the agency is doing to distribute COVID-19 vaccines quickly and efficiently to veterans in New Hampshire and across the country. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan that Senator Hassan helped pass into law will strengthen veterans’ health care services, including to support mental health and telehealth, and also includes significant funding for job training to help veterans get good-paying jobs. Senator Hassan also recently helped secure key priorities for Granite State veterans in the bipartisan veterans package that was signed into law earlier this year, including the Deborah Sampson Act, which Senator Hassan joined in introducing to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face. The bipartisan package also included a number of other measures cosponsored by Senator Hassan, including supporting veterans experiencing homelessness, helping veterans safely dispose of unwanted medication, and helping address the high rate of unemployment among veterans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, last year Senator Hassan cosponsored bipartisan legislation, which is now law, to improve veterans’ access to mental health care in New Hampshire and across the country.

 

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