House Passes Four Shea-Porter Cosponsored Veterans Bills
WASHINGTON, DC — This week, the House of Representatives passed four bills cosponsored by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) to improve veterans’ health care.
“As Veterans Day approaches, today’s bills show that Congress can still put partisanship aside to improve health care for our nation’s veterans,” said Shea-Porter. “I’m proud that the House passed our bills to honor the solemn commitments we make to those who serve. Our veterans deserve the best quality health care we can provide, and I will continue to work across the aisle to improve services for veterans in New Hampshire and across the country.”
This week’s House-passed bills that Shea-Porter cosponsored include:
- H.R. 918, Veterans Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act: This bill would require the VA to provide an initial mental health assessment and any subsequent mental health care services that are needed to meet an urgent healthcare need for veterans discharged under other-than-honorable conditions. In general, the VA is not allowed to provide health care services to veterans discharged under other-than-honorable conditions. Military combat may contribute to behaviors and mental health conditions that result in being discharged under other-than-honorable conditions, and it is estimated that 22,000 veterans suffering from mental health conditions have received this type of discharge since 2009. This has prevented many veterans from accessing VA mental healthcare at a time when 20 veterans a day commit suicide. This legislation will allow the VA to treat many veterans at-risk for suicide that it currently is not authorized to treat.
- H.R. 1133, Veterans Transplant Coverage Act of 2017: This bill would lift current barriers and allow the VA to pay for and conduct transplant procedures through the Choice Program, regardless of whether the organ donor is eligible for VA health care and whether the procedure takes place in a VA or non-VA facility. Currently, the VA requires organ transplant procedures to be performed either at one of the VA’s transplant centers, where wait times are extremely long, or at a non-VA hospital, where the Choice Program will only currently cover the entire cost of the procedures if both donor and recipient are veterans.
- H.R. 2123, Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act (VETS Act): The VA is currently trying to expand telehealth services, but under current law the VA may only waive the state license requirement for telehealth services if both the patient and physician are located in a federally owned facility. In addition, the VA may only perform at-home telehealth care when the patient and physician are located in the same state. This bill would lift these barriers, which can be a deterrent for disabled or rural veterans who are seeking treatment from a physician in another state, in some cases forcing veterans to travel great lengths to a federal facility before receiving telehealth services by camera or phone.
- H.R. 3122, Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017: This bill would require the VA to post a warning on its website about the predatory practices employed by some businesses to target veterans who are eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit helps pay for assisted living or in-home personal care for veterans who qualify for a VA pension. The bill also requires GAO to complete a study on financial exploitation of veterans. Recently, scammers have targeted veterans through the application process for the Aid and Attendance benefit, charging them fees for applying for the benefit even though that process is free. Some scammers have gone even further, placing veterans’ assets into trusts or other financial products that limit the veteran’s access to those assets.
A former military spouse and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Shea-Porter is committed to ensuring that veterans have access to education, quality health care, and good jobs when they return home. Throughout her time in Congress, she has worked to provide New Hampshire veterans with increased in-state access to medical care. In January, Shea-Porter reintroduced the Veterans Health Equity Act, a bill that would remedy New Hampshire’s status as the only state in the nation without a full-service VA hospital or equivalent access. The bill has been supported by every member of the New Hampshire delegation, Republican and Democratic, since Shea-Porter first introduced it in 2008.