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Senate Passes Hassan-Backed Legislation to Strengthen Health Care for Post-9/11 Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances

Bipartisan Package Includes Elements of Sen. Hassan’s Bill to Help Veterans Get Care They Need More Quickly

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Maggie Hassan and her colleagues to strengthen health care for veterans who served after September 11, 2001, including those who were exposed to toxic substances during their service. The bipartisan Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act includes key pieces of Senator Hassan’s bipartisan bill, the TEAM Act, which she worked to secure in the final package as a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

 

“Veterans who return home after their service and find themselves battling an illness due to toxic exposure must be able to treat and manage their condition,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan bill will strengthen care for veterans who served after 9/11, and includes a measure I pushed for to help ensure that veterans with toxic exposure don’t slip through the cracks. I urge the House to pass this critical bill without delay, and I will continue working across the aisle to get veterans the care that they need and have earned.”

 

Among its many provisions, the bipartisan Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act would:

  • Expand the period of health care eligibility for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001 from five years following discharge to ten years;
  • Provide a one-year open enrollment period for any post-9/11 combat veterans who are outside their 10-year window;
  • Establish an outreach plan to contact veterans who did not enroll during their initial period of enhanced eligibility; and
  • Mandate toxic exposure related education and training for health care and benefits personnel at the VA.

 

The bipartisan package also includes key measures from Senators Hassan and Thom Tillis’s (R-NC) bipartisan TEAM Actincluding to:

  • Require the VA to screen veterans for potential toxic exposure;
  • Require the VA to compile and analyze data to identify a potential link between a veteran’s medical conditions and toxic exposure; and
  • Direct the VA to develop an outreach program to veterans and their families regarding benefits and support programs related to toxic exposure.

 

Senator Hassan is working across the aisle on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to help ensure that veterans, service members, and their families have the support that they need to thrive. Senator Hassan recently attended the White House signing ceremony for the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, which she introduced with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN). The bill directs the VA to create a program to recruit military medical personnel who have less than one year left in their service to work in federal health care occupations at the VA. The Senator also successfully passed into law her bipartisan bill with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to establish a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

 

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