by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Orginally published in ASRM Bulletin Volume 14, Number 36
Today, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on a long list of bills intended to improve services for our nation’s veterans. Among them was a bill introduced by the committee’s chair to improve access to fertility counseling and treatment for veterans with a service-connected genitourinary disability or condition incurred in the line of duty that affects the veteran’s ability to reproduce.
S. 3313, the “Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2012,” was introduced by Chairwoman Patty Murray to require the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to collaborate with the Secretary of the Department of Defense and the Director of the National Institutes of Health to facilitate research to improve the long-term reproductive health needs of veterans who are injured in the line of duty in a manner that compromises their ability to reproduce. Importantly, the bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish fertility counseling and treatment, including assisted reproductive technologies, to a spouse or surrogate of a severely wounded veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
In written testimony, ASRM indicated its support for the bill and suggested a number of modifications to improve the measure. Testifying in support of the bill were representatives of a number of military organizations, a veteran and urologist representing the American Urological Association and a compelling witness whose 24-year-old husband became a quadriplegic during his deployment just six weeks after their marriage. Today, they are the proud parents of 18-month-old twins after facing years of obstacles in their efforts to find a new normal and rebuild their lives, and repeated roadblocks in their unsuccessful attempts to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for infertility treatments.
While the Department of Defense does cover some infertility treatment for military personnel, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not similarly cover these services. The patient witness testified that the Department of Defense coverage also falls short, in that accessing that coverage at one of the few sites where the coverage is furnished is impossible for those who are also caregivers to their injured military spouses and the ability to receive treatment near home is imperative. The Deputy Under Secretary for Health Policy and Services of the Veterans Health Administration testified that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not yet taken a position on the bill.
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