Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Bolster Care for Veterans Amid COVID-19 Crisis

June 06, 2020

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced two pieces of legislation this week to bolster care for veterans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The bills – the Emergency Care for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act and the Debt Relief for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act – would ensure New Hampshire veterans can access emergency care without incurring massive medical bills during this crisis and would temporarily suspend Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) debt collection efforts. Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) introduced companion legislation in the House for both bills in April. 

“Ensuring New Hampshire veterans have access to medical care – COVID-19 related or not – and prioritizing their financial security during this crisis must be top priorities. That’s why I’ve introduced this legislation,” said Shaheen. “Our country owes veterans a debt we can never truly repay, but the least we can do is work together to secure their health and well-being, especially during this unprecedented crisis. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join me in this effort so together we can deliver relief and peace of mind to our veterans during these troubling times.” 

The Emergency Care for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would allow veterans accessing emergency medical care and services and COVID-19 care during the pandemic to receive reimbursement from the VA for those services regardless of their disability status or the provider they visit. The Debt Relief for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would prohibit the VA from seeking repayment from veterans on outstanding debts until the COVID-19 health emergency is over.

Senator Shaheen has fought tirelessly in support of veterans to ensure they have the resources and services they need amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Senators Shaheen and Hassan called on VA Secretary Wilkie in April to strengthen New Hampshire veterans’ access to telehealth as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act that Senator Shaheen helped negotiate and worked to pass into law included $2.15 billion in funding to the VA to enhance its ability to provide telehealth services to veterans. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Shaheen and a group of Senators implored the administration to fully invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to address the nation’s staggering shortage of supplies, the VA’s broken supply chain and support for the Department in its critical mission to protect veterans, health care workers and communities from the virus. Additionally, last month, Shaheen called on the VA to immediately ramp up testing at VA facilities nationwide and establish a framework for a large-scale strategy for national testing. Shaheen also sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation, calling on the Department of Treasury to tack action to correct or swiftly distribute missing stimulus checks, which has impacted veterans in New Hampshire and across the country. 

Bill text of the Emergency Care for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act can be found here. 

Bill text of the Debt Relief for Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act can be found here.