Update on the MilCon #IVF4Vets Win
Posted by: Barbara Collura at October 10, 2016
Category: Federal and State legislation
A couple weeks ago we were honored to share with our community that the hard work of so many RESOLVE advocates paid off and the MilCon-VA appropriations bill included an amendment that allows the Veterans Administration (VA) to offer IVF and adoption assistance to certain Veterans with a service-connected injury that caused their infertility. This affects Veterans who are infertile because of their service to our country. Prior to this amendment passing, the VA was barred from offering IVF. RESOLVE advocates have worked on changing this policy since 2012, and advocated for it at every Advocacy Day since 2013. Since this legislative win happened, we’ve received a few questions we want to make sure we address for our community.
“I heard that the amendment doesn’t actually provide funding to the VA for IVF and adoption assistance. How is this still a win?”
Since 1992, the VA has been barred from offering IVF. They literally needed Congress to act to change this policy. The IVF for Vets amendment does just that – it finally has Congress telling VA “it’s OK to offer IVF.” Remember though, this is not a permanent fix – this was an amendment to a one year funding bill for the VA. Regarding specific funds allocated to IVF – most of the VA budget does not have line items for every possible medical procedure that the VA offers. RESOLVE, along with ASRM and our Veteran Service Organization partners, are actively working with VA to ensure a smooth roll-out of this benefit. And you can be sure our champions in Congress are already talking to the VA to ensure this benefit gets rolled out quickly. As Senator Murray’s press release stated: Sen. Murray’s amendment would allow VA to use existing funds to cover the costs of assisted reproductive technology, of which IVF is the most common. Because the provision in the MilCon-VA bill would supersede, but not permanently repeal VA’s ban on providing IVF and would need to be reauthorized through the appropriations process, Sen. Murray will continue to push for a full repeal of the IVF ban.
“I’m really happy for our wounded Veterans, they deserve it. But what about me?”
RESOLVE takes the words “Access to Care” very seriously. As it relates to Congress, RESOLVE plans to work with our partners and advocates to ensure Congress does more to open access to care to our active duty service members and our federal employees, who currently do not have access to all family building options. RESOLVE has launched a “Coverage at Work” initiative to provide the tools and resources so that employers add coverage, and RESOLVE continues to advocate for legislative change at the state level where adding an insurance mandate is a real possibility. We want to see everyone have insurance coverage for all medical treatments associated with family building.
For 40 years RESOLVE has been the voice for people struggling to a build a family. And we’re proud that our advocates worked hard to get our Veterans access to more family building options. We asked a few of the more than 200 advocates who came to Advocacy Day in May 2016 about the MilCon-VA amendment to share why they were so passionate about this issue:
“Although this bill doesn't directly benefit me, it is an awe-inspiring testament to the power of the American people and gives me hope that this will stimulate changes in how infertility is viewed by lawmakers, insurance companies, and everyday Americans.” –Chris Wohl, Virginia
“My husband served in and is a veteran of the Gulf War, and as the Bill is currently written, we will not personally benefit from the passing of the MilCon Bill. However, I believe this is bigger than just one individual; it raises awareness and benefits the entire infertility community, and I will continue to support it however I can.” Jenn Berens, Ohio
Chris and Jenn, I couldn’t agree more. This is bigger than one person, than one group. This legislative victory lays the groundwork for more understanding of the issues that people who struggle to build a family and those with infertility face every day.