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New push for veterans' fertility treatments

Mar. 6, 2013 - 11:55AM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 - 11:55AM  |  
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House lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand fertility services for seriously wounded veterans and their families.

Under the proposed legislation, similar to a bill introduced in the Senate in February by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., veterans with spinal cord injuries or wounds to their reproductive and urinary tract systems that render them unable to have children naturally would be eligible for advanced treatments, including in vitro fertilization and intro-uterine insemination.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Steve Stivers, R-Ohio., also would cover treatment and counseling for spouses or surrogates of affected veterans, as well as adoption assistance.

"Disabled veterans have already paid too high a price in service to our nation. They should not have to pay a higher cost to start a family," Larsen said in a statement Tuesday.

The Senate passed legislation containing the same provisions late last year but it failed to get through the House, where lawmakers objected to its financing. The cost — an estimated $568 million over the next five years — would have been covered out of wartime contingency funds.

Now, both Larsen's and Murray's legislation would cover the cost by letting the Veterans Affairs Department levy fees on large corporations that contract with VA.

"Providing fertility services is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make to care for our service members and veterans when they return home. I applaud the bipartisan effort on this critical legislation by Congressmen Larsen and Stivers," Murray said.

About 1,800 veterans would qualify, most injured by improvised explosive devices.

Tricare covers some fertility care for injured or medically retired service members, but it does not pay for embryo implantation or specialized care for spouses in most cases.

Both bills, known as the 2013 Women Veterans and other Health Care Improvements Acts, also require VA to provide child care services at hospitals or reimburse for babysitting for veterans who have medical appointments.

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