WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined her colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation 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.
“To slow the spread of this deadly virus, we must do everything in our power to get vaccines into arms and one commonsense step we can take is ensuring that the VA can vaccinate all veterans regardless of whether they are enrolled in the VA’s health care system,” Senator Hassan said. “Through my role on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue working on a bipartisan basis to help ensure that veterans, including those in rural areas, receive the support that they need to make it through this challenging time.”
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:
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.