WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act to eliminate copayments for contraception covered by VA.
“All veterans should be able to easily access the essential care and benefits they deserve, including contraception,” said Heinrich. “Eliminating these co-payments will close an unfair loophole and ensure that women veterans enrolled in the VA health care system are supported.”
While civilians can receive contraception without a copay through the Affordable Care Act and active duty service members can receive health care—including basic contraceptive services—without copays through TRICARE, VA health care only waives contraception copays for a limited number of veterans.
Under current law, only a restricted group of veterans, including 50% disabled veterans and veterans below specific income levels, are exempt from copayments for contraception. This legislation will eliminate out-of-pocket costs levied against countless veterans, including women who make up the fastest growing group of veterans enrolling in the VA health care system.
The Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act is led by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The legislation is originally authored by U.S. Representative Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) and was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in June by a bipartisan vote of 245-181.
The bill is also endorsed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Women's Health Network, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Academy of Nursing, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council of Jewish Women, National Women's Health Network, and the National Women's Law Center.